Being a kid is one of the best parts of life. When the biggest worry is getting math homework done, there’s a lot of time open to exploring new topics and hobbies. Imagination can carry weight as a kid that is sorely missing from most of adulthood. Creativity can set a child up for huge success when they grow up, as they’ll look at situations from different points of view much easier than if they’re locked into rigidity. Fostering that creativity and helping it grow will prove incredibly valuable in the long run. Creativity is a key component to success in everything from school and work to friendships and inner happiness. But how can you help it grow?
The number one thing adults are always lacking is time. It’s hard to juggle family, friendships, and career while still having enough time to work out those creative muscles. Don’t take that freedom away from a kid. Give them time to play around in an unstructured way. Let them make up their own games, stories, characters, and art. Do your best to center this time away from commercialized properties and premade characters. This is their time to let their imagination run wild.
Ensure they have plenty of room to work in. If they want to draw, a large table with lots of different color crayons or markers goes a long way. It’s especially helpful if this is a room they can get a bit messy in. Creativity is rarely focused, so something like being able to spread out the Lego blocks on the floor, can help them piece things together or come up with entirely new ideas away from instruction booklets.
When birthdays and holidays roll around, recommend anyone getting your child a gift go for things like art supplies, cheap cameras, or stuff to make costumes with. Organize this space with easily accessible tubs so your child can access any pieces needed to facilitate their ideas without adult intervention. This is a big moment to develop self-sufficient feelings as they grow up and it will provide a sense of accomplishment when they complete something on their own.
Outside of this creative space, you can continue to present opportunities for your child to think in clever ways. As you’re having dinner, you can ask the kid for ideas as to what they want to do this weekend. Have them focus on things they’ve never done before. This isn’t a point where you’re going to shoot down ideas for being impossible or expensive because you haven’t guaranteed any of these activities will be happening. The goal is to get them thinking about new experiences. Creative activities are more about generating new ideas than they are about evaluating those ideas.
Encourage mistakes. One of the guarantees in life is failure. Helping a child understand that failing is a normal thing will steer them away from having a fear of failure. Share some examples of your own failure with them to show it happens to everyone. Teach them about laughing about mistakes.
Make innovation and creativity something to be celebrated in your home. Hang up their paintings, proudly display their sculptures; they will value their own work if they see you value it too. Share your favorite artists, philosophers, and scientists. Let them see what you’re passionate about and they’ll find things they feel the same way about.
While there are many TV shows, movies, and video games that inspire creativity (Minecraft and Super Mario Maker are all about creating things), it’s important to limit your child’s time in front of a screen. Find books concerning subjects they’ve shown interest in. See if they want to be in a local production of a play. This instills healthy habits going into adulthood while teaching them the value of the meditation they can achieve when they really get absorbed in a good book or a drawing they’ve been working on.
Divergent thought is often discouraged by parents. Sure, it may make it easier to say “Because I’m the boss and I said so”, but that doesn’t help kids understand the situation. Oftentimes, a child will disagree simply because they only see one option or answer in front of them. Teach them that there’s more than one solution to a problem and encourage them to find other solutions. When they’re able to find a successful solution, challenge them to find a secondary route to that solution. This will inspire both creativity and the critical thinking that is incredibly valuable throughout life.
The creative process is supposed to be its own reward, with the end product being the incentive to keep going. If you’re finding that your child needs to have an incentive to keep working on something creative, it’s likely they aren’t that interested in the activity. Instead of giving a reward for practicing piano, ask them what they don’t like about playing piano or if there’s something else they’d rather be doing. Creativity isn’t something that can be forced. It has to be nurtured and spun out of genuine interest.
The end goal of any creative endeavor is often the least important part. Like the old saying goes, it’s the journey, not the destination. Focus on if they had fun if it’s something they want to come back to, what was enjoyable or not. Help them find the words to describe how they felt about the activity. This will help them understand what they enjoy and want to pursue. This is especially helpful when trying new activities and getting past worries of failure. By emphasizing the process of creativity instead of the end product, you’re also teaching them when it’s ok to walk away from an artistic activity they aren’t being creatively fulfilled by. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from this.
While it’s important to give them their own space to explore their creativity, many kids thrive off interaction with their parents. In cases like this, your child might ask you to join in on an activity. We all know how busy schedules can get, but it’s important to join in when possible. This shows them that not only do you value their creative endeavors, you have your own creativity as well. Some particularly artistic parents will have their child start a drawing which they then finish, usually in a different color so the child’s work is not lost in the piece. Not only does this foster creativity, it shows the importance and value of collaboration with others. Demonstrating that creation doesn’t have to be, and often isn’t, a solo experience. Play music together, paint together, write together; it all helps them understand how well creativity and teamwork can go hand-in-hand with each other.
Creativity is one of the most valuable and boundless resources in the world. Inspiring imaginative work is how we’ve gotten many of the most groundbreaking innovations and emotionally fulfilling artwork the world over. And if you’re looking for a safe space to help inspire creative physical activity, come on into Rebounderz here in Lansdale. With an exciting trampoline park and super fun Ninja Warrior course, a kid can create all sorts of fun ideas.