A growing source of concern is the lack of creativity parents and teachers are observing at home and at school. I receive many questions from parents wondering what they can do to nurture creativity. Here are a few simple guidelines that can help you ensure that your child’s creativity will prosper.
Avoid activities that squash your child’s creativity.
Whether it’s constant TV watching, playing video games, regular trips to the theme park, or weekly shopping expeditions, kids are becoming more and more conditioned to expect entertainment. This is probably the most dangerous threat to your child’s creativity. If they are allowed to spend endless hours absorbed in passive entertainment, without active engagement, it is clear that their creative capacities will suffer.
Creativity is like a muscle: it has to be worked.
Kids come into the world with remarkable imaginations, and an almost endless capacity for creativity. In various ways, both obvious and not so obvious, kids are taught to stifle their creativity.
This begins in little ways, for example, when they are taught to color only inside the lines. Much of their learning involves replicating and duplicating exactly what is taught. If not careful, children experience a world where little value is placed on creative expression. If you want creativity to prosper, you have to work that muscle.
Expose kids to play that requires creativity.
Instead of TV and video games, fill your home with toys and materials that require creativity. Make sure that you have lots of blank paper and crayons, building blocks and LEGOs® as well as old-fashioned toys that allow for creating stories that endlessly change and evolve.
Engage kids in creative problem solving around the house.
As kids get older, invite them to creatively come up with solutions with you. When it’s time to plan a new garden, get the family involved in the garden plan. When it is time to decorate a room, invite your kids to be a part of this. When it is time to paint a wall, ask them to come up with ideas. When their bicycle chain keeps hopping off its sprocket, rather than fixing it for them…, invite them to come up with a solution that could fix the problem.
The common denominator here is to ask. Ask your children for input, ask them for a creative solution. And let them see that creativity allows for many options to be explored. You can keep “playing” in the creative possibilities…as you come up with solutions to everyday problems.
Keep them engaged in a home where creativity is a constant part of the cooperative problem solving that occurs.
Make sure that you notice moments of creativity.
Especially during the younger years, give energy to moments of your child’s creativity. Rather than ignoring them when they’re playing in creative ways or working their imagination, spend a few moments noticing them doing these activities.
You must give energy to the activities that you value … if you want those characteristics to grow. In the case of creativity, you can do your part by making sure that you catch your kids – while they are being creative. Don’t wait until the project is over; catch them while it’s happening.
In this way, you invest your energy in what you really value. This will ensure that you use every ounce of your influence to nurture those creative juices and to keep that muscle strong.
Be the person you want your kids to be.
As I have mentioned in other articles on my TerrificParenting website, you cannot escape what you model. If your kids grow up in a home where you model creativity and using your imagination, they can’t help but become a part of this.
Children emulate their parents. It’s just the way it is. You have remarkable influence just through the behavior you model every day to your kids.
Be willing to challenge yourself to remain creatively active in the evenings. Rather than sitting in front of the TV, help stimulate creative play with your kids. Paint. Write. Create a story with your kids. Work your own creative muscle… while you engage your kids.