Creative Potential: 5 Ways To Encourage Creativity in Your Child
Expressing ourselves through creative pursuits can boost our sense of purpose and happiness. This is also true for children. While every child has the potential for creativity, one of the best things a parent can do, is to help her child nurture this potential. Creative children can be great problem solvers and they tend to have an optimistic outlook. Here are several ways to help nurture your child’s creativity:
1. Get Messy
This might be a hard one for Type A parents who are typically keen on organization, neatness and order. However, home is the first place your child will learn to be, think and see creatively. Offer your children an environment that allows them to undertake creative pursuits such building projects, dancing, painting, drawing, writing, doing arts and crafts, singing—anything that allows them to express their creative thinking. This might mean lying off the pressure on your kids to keep everything super clean and neat. Allow your kids to ‘mess around’ and afterwards, clean the mess together!
2. Encourage Play
Studies by researchers from the American Academy of Paediatrics continue to confirm a significant decline in free play in most of the developed world. These studies also confirm the importance of play for the emotional, physical, mental and social well being of youth and children. Free play, void of structured data, allows children’s brains to think freely and loosely and to come up with several ideas in the process. This is also known as creative thinking. So do not organize playtime too much; just allow your children to be children. Allow them to create their own games and to play freely within their own rules.
3. Offer Alternative Sources of Entertainment
Rex Jung, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist working with the Mind Research Network observes that television and internet have become predominant sources of entertainment for children. Toddlers and teens alike are spending more hours watching TV and surfing the net (for tweens and teens) that they are on play, outdoor activities and on pursuing their creative interests. Child and youth psychologists suggest that parents should limit screen time and encourage their children to pursue other activities as sources of entertainment. Instead of allowing your child to sit in front of a screen for 6 hours, allow him about 1 or 2 hours and then urge him to do something else such as playing, reading a book, playing a musical instrument, cooking, or building something. The bottom line is that too much screen time saps away the creative potential in your child.
4. Engage in Activities of Interest
While free play and free time are very essential in nurturing a sense of creativity, some organized activities can also help a child to develop his creativity. Work with your child to find out his interests. Children, including toddlers, start to gravitate towards certain activities as they grow up. Your child may be more sports oriented, or he may gravitate towards music, community work, pets, nature, music or dance. Offer him the support he requires as he pursues these interests but do not pressure him to perform. Creativity is really not about competition or excellence.
5. Free Them Up
In an attempt to nurture a child’s creativity, it is easy for a parent to overschedule the child. Having too much to do can in fact dampen your child’s creative thinking capacities, because he is simply too tired to think and he is doing things just to keep up. Allow your child to focus on a few activities at a time. Remember not to pressure your child into activities just for the sake of competition. Encourage him to enjoy free time regularly.