Children are born creative. They explore the world with curiosity, experiment, make up stories and incessantly create. But as we grow older, doubt and fear of making mistakes creep in and we increasingly stick to what we know instead of looking for new ways of seeing and doing. How can we help our children hold on to their creativity and let it flourish?
Make time for free play
We're often afraid that our kids will get bored and we provide constant flow of activities to fill their days. And if we find that they have nothing to do, we put them in front of the TV! Yet, it is the unstructured time that challenges our kids to see different opportunities for play. They may pick up a pen and start drawing, observe what is going on around them or turn random household objects into fairy wands, spaceships and imaginary friends.
If your child complains that she's bored, you can help her come up with activities or start a game, but encourage her to take responsibility for her own play. Hold yourself back from taking the lead and let her do what she wants to do.
Let your child be unique
You may have the urge to correct your child while she's creating. Resist it and only offer help if your child asks for it. Also resist any parenting advice to set limits on your child's creativity. A friend may believe that your child's paintings should look like a person or a house and not like blobs of colour. Grandma may think that your child's games are not educational enough. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. It's your child's expression and your child's play. Be on her side and allow her to create from her heart.
Focus on the process, not the end result
Encourage your child to notice how much effort she's putting into an activity and how much she's enjoying it instead of praising what she has completed. It'll make her feel that being creative is worthwhile even when the end result is disappointing.
When it comes to children and creativity, mess is an inevitable outcome, but don't let that stop you from allowing your child to create. Accept mess as a part of the process and an opportunity to teach your child to clean up afterwards.
Be a role model
Do you try to encourage your child to think differently while you shy away from anything outside your comfort zone? Do you praise her art while making excuses for your own ('Oh, I'm just not good at drawing')? This approach is not going to work. Let your child see you be creative and try new things. Only then they'll perceive creativity as a good thing and something to strive towards.