A growing source of concern is the lack of creativity children are expressing in their interest at home and at school. Parents are wondering what they can do to nurture creativity. Here are a few simple guidelines that can help you ensure that your child’s creativity will prosper.
1. Avoid training your child that they are to be entertained. Whether it’s constant TV watching, playing video games, or trips to the theme park, or weekly shopping expeditions, kids are becoming more and more conditioned to expect entertainment. This is probably the most dangerous threat to your child’s creativity. If they are allowed to spend endless hours seeking passive entertainment, without active engagement, it is clear that their creative capacities will suffer.
2. Creativity is like a muscle….it has to be worked. Kids come into the world with remarkable imaginations, and an almost endless capacity for creativity. In various ways, both obvious and not so obvious, kids are taught to stifle their creativity.
This begins in little ways, when they are taught to color only inside the lines. Much learning involves replicating and duplicating exactly what it taught. Limited value gets placed upon creative activities in school, and instead exclusive emphasis is put on the hard “sciences.”
If you want creativity to prosper, you have to work this muscle.
3. If you want creative children, raise them in a creative environment.
As I have mentioned in other articles, you cannot escape what you model. If your kids grow up in an environment where you model creativity and using your imagination, they can’t help but become a part of this.
Like it or not, children emulate their parents. The more that you expose them to an environment where you are thinking out of the box…decorating out of the box….creating out of the box….you’ll help your kids to think out of the box and to act in ways that are not preprogrammed.
4. Expose kids to play that requires creative components.
Instead of exposure to passive entertainment, fill your home with toys and materials that require creativity. Make sure there are lots of legos, building blocks, and crayons and paper to draw on.
When it is time to decorate a room, invite your kids to be a part of this. When it is time to paint a wall, ask them to come up with a creative idea.
5. Engage kids in creative problem solving around the house.
As kids get older, invite them to creativity come up with solutions with you. When it’s time to plan a new garden, get the family involved in the garden plan.
When it’s time to redecorate a room, put all the furniture in the middle of the room and ask them to help come up with options. When their bicycle chain keeps hopping off its sprocket, rather than fixing it for them….invite them to come up with a solution that could permanently fix the problem.
The common denominator here is to ask. Ask your children for input. Ask them for a creative solution. Keep them engaged in a home environment where creativity is a constant part of the mutual problem solving that occurs.
6. Make sure that you notice moments of creativity.
Especially during the younger years, give energy to moments of your child’s creativity. Rather than ignoring them when they’re playing in creative ways, or working their imagination, spend a few moments noticing them doing these activities.
You must give energy to the activities that you value….if you want those characteristics to grow. In the case of creativity, you can do your part by making sure that you catch your kids…while they are being creative. Don’t wait until the project is over….catch them while it’s happening.
In this way, you invest your energy in what you really value. This will ensure that you use every ounce of your influence to nurture those creative juices and to keep that muscle strong.