A guide to raising creative children
Creativity is about imagination, less about instruction and more about exploration. And letting kids develop their imagination, experiment, take risks and feel free to express themselves is something all parents can support.
Why creativity is an important skill to focus on and develop in kids?
Creativity is a skill that can be nurtured and encouraged. The creativity skill provides children with a creative outlet that builds their self-esteem and character. Creativity helps children become more imaginative, understand their emotions better, and build their confidence.
The nurturing and encouragement of creativity in kids will help them develop many skills throughout their life, such as the ability to think outside of the box, enhance their analytical thinking skills, improve their problem solving skills, creativity in S.T.E.M and become superior communicators.
Tips to let creativity thrive in kids
Today, we live in a fast-paced society with a modern lifestyle. For busy parents, it can be even more difficult to help foster your kids’ creativity between after-school activities, homework and working life. The tips below show how even the busiest parents can easily encourage their children to observe, explore, and imagine in order to foster creativity.
1. Power of unstructured playtime
In a clinical report released in August, the American Academy of Paediatrics noted that “the importance of playtime with children cannot be overemphasized” and suggested that play is a key factor in raising “creative, curious and healthier kids.”
Time is the key to raising creative kids. Time to let them explore, time to let their minds wander, time to ponder and time to get bored.
A structured schedule leaves little room for creativity. It is during this unstructured time that kids begin to daydream, which is itself a gateway to creativity and pursue their interests.
If your kids tell you they are bored, don't rush in with homework or a craft project you've planned, or attempt to occupy them with a tablet so they can watch videos. Instead, let your kids come up with their own way to pass the time. After successfully overcoming boredom a few times, kids will often begin to occupy themselves without their parent’s help.
Have an open slot for half an hour or an hour of unstructured playtime in your child’s day to allow them free play.
2. Open-ended toys and materials
To inspire creativity at home, parents do not need to buy expensive toys. Kids benefits from “open-ended toys, materials and loose parts”. Being outside, grabbing acorns, leaves, sticks, flowers- any object that does not have a designated use is an opportunity to be creative.
As for creative space, this can be a desk where you have all sorts of crayons, pencils, papers, blocks, crafts, Lego, clay and whatever else you can think of that they can play with and use to make something with their hands.
According to Dr. Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College, who is an advocate for playtime. “Legos used to just sell you the bricks that kids love to play with to make their little creations. Now they sell these kits with instructions on what to build. The kids are not learning to be creative with that type of play as it comes with instructions so that limits creativity” Dr. Gray said.
It is important to limit the number of toys your kids have. Research has shown that toddlers who had fewer toys to play with played with those toys for longer and generally engaged in more creative activities than toddlers who had much more variety of toys.
3. Limit screen time
While there are certainly some benefits to watching educational YouTube videos or certain kinds of cartoons, limiting the time your child spends in front of a screen will boost their creativity, as they can then engage in other activities to stimulate their creativity.
The key is balance between screen time from watching beneficial education videos or apps and letting your kids have adequate unstructured time so imagination can bloom.
4. Encourage kids to take risk
The more kids feel safe to put themselves out there and overcome feelings of nervousness and intimidation, the more they will feel confident to express themselves creatively.
How can parents support and gently encourage your kids to try something new before they decide to completely give up?
As parents we can provide reassurance that he/she will be safe, that you are there to help him/her and validate his/her feeling that it is okay to feel worried, and this is what will get him/her to overcome his/her fear and take healthy risk.
5. Create safe to fail environment
To be creative, kids need to feel safe. They need to feel they can do and explore anything without instruction or criticism. Parents can foster this sense of creative safety in a few ways:
Resist the urge to direct: Letting kids have the freedom to explore on their own opens their minds to new ideas and helps them gain confidence in self-direction.
Creativity is not a competition: Never compare your kid’s creations or works to others. Any critique or comparison could make kids feel that being creative or imaginative is not worth it if they do not live up to expectations.
Do not reward kids for creativity: Rewards and incentives interfere with creative process. Let kids be self-motivated when it comes to creativity.
A place where your kids can fail and try again in a very safe environment is important.
For example, if it does not work out, provide time to talk with your child about why it did not. Parents can help by consistently expressing the mindset that failure is an opportunity to learn and a chance to grow. Instead of getting upset over a child’s D grade, a parent can ask what the child learned from the test. And whether asking the teacher for assistance with unclear topics before the test could help next time.
Help your kids fall in love with reading. The more your kid learns about the world, what's possible, and about fantasy worlds they can play in, they will have better building blocks for their imaginative play.
Two kinds of book recommended to nurture your children’s creativity – age’s appropriate books and the books that they want to read. Reading only what you feel you must can sometimes take the fun out of the activity, so leaving some room for personal preference is key.
6. Encourage questions
As children, we tend to question everything and ask ten thousand Why questions? i.e., where to babies come from and why stars twinkle.
However, these are precisely the kinds of questions that can do a lot to boost creative kids. The questions kids ask show their inquisitiveness, curiosity, and general interest in the world.
When your kids come to you with a question, it is important how you answer them to boost their creativity. Remember to always provide them with an honest answer. If you do not have an answer, encourage them to find it on their own if they are older. For younger kids, make it a point to find the answer together. Older kids are approximately 9 years old and above. Younger kids are below 9 years old.
Happy reading and see you in my next blog!
About the Author
Hi, I am Christy Lim. I am the mother of two boys, 2-year-old Josiah and four-year-old Solomon. 😊
Being a new parent, I am always researching how to raise children who are happy, creative, and emotionally stable.
It is more challenging than ever to be a parent in today's world with mobile devices, tablets, and TV screen time. Parenting is an art, and there is no one way to do it properly since every child is unique and special.
My hope is that by sharing my research in this blog, parents might find some tips and ideas to help them on their parenting journey, which is both challenging and rewarding at the same time.