Creativity is a core skill that parents should encourage in their children. It is an essential component for success and happiness in our academic, work, and personal lives.
People tend to think that creativity is an innate gift that some individuals are born with and others aren’t. In reality, creativity is like any other skill that can be fostered and developed over time.
If you’re looking for ways to enhance your child’s creative abilities, below are four simple ways you can encourage them to open up their mind and think outside the box.
Build a creative atmosphere
The best way to foster your child’s creativity is by building an environment in your home where creativity and innovation are always celebrated.
Remember, creativity starts within. You are your child’s biggest role model, and if they see you pursuing your interests, dabbling in multiple activities, and stepping outside the lines, they will follow suit.
If you’re worried that you aren’t a creative person, remember that you can always learn. Approach creativity as a journey you and your child can embark on together.
Cover your walls with forms of art from all around the world. Have an activity night each week where you and your child explore a new interest together. Talk to your kid about your interests growing up, from favourite bands to artists you like, the shows you watched, and the concerts you attended.
Share with them your passion for cooking, books, photography, wildlife, gardening, painting, fashion, sciences, technology, or anything under the sun. Focus on exposing your kid to various fields and fostering a creative atmosphere in your home.
Pick up on their interests
Each child is unique, so you mustn’t try to take a one-size-fits-all approach to creativity.
A great way to help foster your child’s unique talents and passions is by observing them and picking up on their interests. Does your child have a habit of randomly doodling on walls and surfaces? Get them a couple of sketchbooks and a set of crayons, and let them doodle away!
If your kid loves sing-alongs and music, take them to music shows and concerts, introduce them to musical instruments, and encourage impromptu family dance parties in your living room.
If they’re always dressing up in your clothes and love pretend play, introduce them to theatre and live performances and let them channel their inner drama queen.
Similarly, Lego enhances creativity. If your child spends hours hunched over legos or building blocks, introduce them to the basics of mechanics and architecture. Let them help you put together an IKEA table or watch you fix a lightbulb. Give them crafting supplies (cardboard, glue, straws, and empty toilet paper rolls) and watch them build away.
If you look closely enough, your child is constantly dropping hints about what sparks their interest. Once you know what activities foster your child’s creativity, give them adequate resources to explore their passions and build off from there.
Give them space to grow
Space is an important resource your child will need for creative expression. Instead of watching over their shoulder while they take on a particular task, leave them to explore the activity at hand and approach it in their own unique way.
Allow them the autonomy to explore their interests and determine what they want. Also, encourage them to make mistakes, and teach them that failure is a part of the learning process.
Allocate specific spaces around the house where they can let loose and create a mess, such as your garage for painting or a ‘play-corner’ in their room with all their toys and supplies.
Giving your child space also means not overburdening them by filling up their week with twenty different activities. Forcing your child to join clubs or attend sessions they don’t enjoy makes the activity/hobby feel like a chore and discourages them from participating.
Instead, let them choose what they want to explore and allow them free time. Encourage them to have a couple of idle hours throughout the week where they can laze about and let their imagination run wild.
Another important way to encourage creative thinking and innovation is by giving your children the opportunity to express their ideas without fear of your response. Let them disagree with you and challenge your beliefs, and ask questions about why they do so.
Value your child’s opinions in living room conversations, and teach them the importance of autonomy and independent critical thinking.
Focus on the process, not the results
The most important thing to remember is that creativity is not about performance.
Don’t treat your child’s creative pursuits as their academics. Teach them that hobbies are not about how well they do something but how much they learn and enjoy themselves throughout the process.
Removing the pressure to perform well allows your child to be freer in their creative thinking. Instead of focusing on the results, ask them questions about the process – what they liked, what they learned, whether they had fun, and if they’d be interested in exploring the activity further.
If your child picks up a particular activity but drops it in the middle, don’t get disheartened and pressure them to continue against their wishes. Let them explore different worlds, take on new challenges, and experience failure. If there’s an interest they particularly enjoyed, they will likely circle back to it with time.
Take the pressure of excellence and performance off your child’s head, and watch their creativity flow in all directions.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.