8 Ways to Encourage Creativity in Children
*THIS IS A COLLABORATIVE POST*
Creativity is one of the most valuable life skills you can have. No matter what career path you follow, the ability to think creatively and innovatively is the key to success in nearly everything you do. But what does it mean?
Creativity, contrary to popular conception, is not merely the ability to create art such as drawings, music, and writing. Rather it involves the use of imagination and ideas to create something of value. Creative people are not just artists; they could also be scientists, business leaders, linguists, consultants, architects, and teachers.
The value of creativity in children is huge. It plays a significant role in their development, and leads to them becoming more flexible thinkers and adept problem solvers. As a skill, it will help them discover and pursue their passions, set them up for career success, and glean more value from their life. And creativity is not an innate skill that kids are born with; it’s not a case of someone either has it or they don’t. It can be nurtured and encouraged in young people as they grow up. Therefore, as a parent, there are many things you can do to help your little ones express their creativity.
Children are known for asking excessive questions, to the point where it can become frustrating. They always want to know why things are the way they are, or how the world around them works. One of the best things you can do as a parent is to encourage this behaviour. Curiosity is a big part of being a creative thinker, as it inspires the individual to question things and create their own solutions to the problems around them.
Therefore, next time your child starts pestering you about why the sky is blue or how gravity works, don’t just dismiss them with a blunt response or ignore them. Explain the answer to your question if you know it, and if you don’t, work with them to research the answer, either via the internet or a book on the subject.
Teach them different solutions to problems
Everyone faces problems on a daily basis. It might be a maths problem while doing their homework, a falling out with a friend, or difficulty maintaining the structural integrity of their Lego castle. A non-creative person may approach problems with a systematic approach, seeing only one solution to a given challenge and obstinately pursuing this path.
A creative person, on the other hand, can look at a challenge from multiple perspectives and consider a variety of different solutions. Therefore, parents should teach their kids to think outside the box and realize that every problem has myriad ways of solving it.
Practice creative skills
While your child is still young, they may not yet have discovered what they are passionate about. It’s a good idea to expose them to lots of different creative outlets in order to show them what is available and help them figure out what they enjoy and are good at. Sit down and start helping your child learn to rhyme, do some drawing or painting, buy them a musical instrument, show them your favourite (age-appropriate) films, or take part in different sports together. Trying as many new things as possible will open their minds to the possibilities around them, and encourage them to take up a creative hobby that suits their personality. If they start practicing their skills at an early age, they will deve;op their creative abilities much more quickly.
Let them be independent
It’s common for parents nowadays to overprotect their children. Before the rise of the internet and smartphone technology, it was common for children to run around outside and go exploring their neighborhood with their friends or even by themselves. But in the modern age, we much more frequently see children spending sunny days indoors playing video games or chatting with their friends on social media.
Although you certainly need to keep your children safe, they need to have their independence if they are to learn to think for themselves. When all a child has is their imagination to hand, there are no limits to the games and activities they can dream up for themselves. Give them space to explore their own personalities and make their own mistakes. Let them choose their own path and teach them that it’s OK not to follow the crowd.
As they grow older you can start entrusting them with more and more responsibility. When they are ready, for example, you can allow them to leave the house on their own, catch the bus from school, or access the internet without supervision. By avoiding the overprotective nature exhibited by many parents, you allow your child to flourish at their own pace.
Set an example
Children learn a lot by watching and listening to their parents. That is why it’s essential that you set them a good example. Whatever your own hobbies might be, try to take your kids along with you to see what you get up to. You might be into fishing, soccer, camping, or carpentry. Getting your little one involved will teach them new skills and help them figure out what they are good at and enjoy doing.
Reading is one of the most valuable activities for a child to participate in, yet it’s a sad fact that literacy rates worldwide are decreasing. Fewer and fewer children are picking up books from a young age, and this can negatively impact their articulacy, vocabulary, and communication skills. Reading, both fiction and non-fiction, can increase a child’s intelligence as well as making them more empathetic and curious about the world. It opens them up to new ideas and ways of thinking, and allows their imagination to take them to completely new places.
Buy your children books from an early age on all manner of subjects. It doesn;t matter whether it’s an adventure novel, a science book, or a biography of their favourite sportsperson. Help them get into it by reading them bedtime stories when they are younger and then encouraging them to start reading by themselves. Make sure you set a good example by reading profusely around the house yourself, rather than spending too much time watching TV and scrolling through your phone.
Limit screen time
Now that we live in the digital era, smartphones and other devices are practically unavoidable. Children are increasingly spending their time with their heads down, staring at a screen, and this has been proved to have countless impacts on their mental and physical health. Addiction to one’s phone and the temptations of social media leads to poor self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, particularly in young people. It leads to decreased vision, neck and back problems, and issues with memory, cognition, and concentration. All of these symptoms can affect their learning and social skills, as well as taking up valuable time that could be spent on more constructive, creative hobbies.
As a parent, it is your duty to ensure that your child’s use of technology is sensible. Although they will no doubt need a phone once they are old enough so they can contact you and stay in touch with friends, you shouldn’t let their usage get out of control. Consider buying them a child-friendly phone that allows for calls and text but limits access to the internet. Schedule screen-free time in your home that all household members must adhere to, and spend time as a family engaging in more wholesome analogue hobbies.
You may find that in order to save your little one from the perils of screen addiction that you first need to break your own addiction cycle. This phenomenon is just as common in adults so if you are struggling to limit your social media consumption then this sets a bad example for your child to follow. Most modern smartphones have digital wellness settings that allow you to set time limits on certain websites and apps.
Use technology wisely
Although technology has its dangers in the modern world, it was created for a purpose, and there are so many ways a creative child can use the internet to their advantage. The best thing about living in the modern era is that one has access to the entire range of human knowledge at the click of a button. Using the internet is not necessarily a bad thing, and there are plenty of educational websites, games, and programs that can help to enhance a child’s development. Don’t rely solely on tech to encourage your kid’s creativity, but remember it can be a valuable tool to help you.
In summary, there are so many things that you as a parent can do to help your children grow up to become creative, innovative adults. By encouraging creativity from an early age, you increase their chances of living happy, fulfilled lives and providing value to the world. Just remember to follow the above advice and set a good example to your little ones and you’ll be amazed by the results.