7 Ways to Encourage Your Kids to be Creative
This article will cover how to encourage your kids to be creative, creative activities for children, mindfulness for creativity, and more.
In 2020, our children reach for their iPads before their dolls or footballs. They'd rather stay inside and chat with friends on iMessage than go outside and run around the neighborhood. While this lack of activity is a big issue on its own, there's also a significant lack of creativity that needs attention.
Yes, our children might be working hard to perfect their Instagram feeds, but when was the last time they picked up the paintbrush, a book, or a musical instrument. Maybe they do, but are they fully invested in the project, or are they glimpsing their screen every five seconds? That’s why we need to encourage our kids to be creative and further, dedicate their full attention to that creative activity. But how?
1. Give them the resources: Instead of buying them the next generation of iPhone or the latest videogame all their friends have, buy them an easel and paint set or a camera. Wondering if these are the right creative activities for young children? Creative activities for young children are the same as for older children or adults. Being creative is universal; it doesn’t discriminate at different ages or levels.
Also, designate an area in your home where they can be creative and not worry about creating a mess, as you don’t want to inhibit their creativity! That could be the attic, a corner of your living room, or the garage where they can set up their painting equipment or music practice.
2. Set by example: If you’re always on your phone or switching the TV on, your kids will copy you. That’s what they do. You need to be a good role model and practice what you preach. Take them to museums, play old music, read, and play board games. Plaster your walls with art and posters of iconic musicians you love and tell your kids about your favorite musicians, artists, and creatives. Also, discuss thought-provoking topics at the dinner table, encouraging brainstorming and thinking outside of the box. Discuss ideas about creative things you and the family could do at the weekend, prompting your kids to come up with new activities you don’t usually do. If they don’t seem to be getting creative on their own, start an activity, like drawing, with them. When they see you doing it, they’ll probably want to join in!
3. Encourage reading for pleasure: This is a separate point because it’s so crucial. It
may not seem like a creative activity per se, but it opens up the mind to different ideas,
topics, and trains of thought. It’s also becoming rarer. Your kids might be reading for school, but do they read for pleasure? Make a point of carving out ‘reading time’ for your family when phones and TVs are switched off.
4. Allow your kids freedom: One of the reasons kids don’t play outside as much anymore is because we’re more fearful as parents these days. While you should check-in on your children and make sure they’re safe, give them the freedom to go out and carve out their own lives and interests. Being overprotective can stunt their creative and general development. That also means accepting their personal choices, whether that’s their way of dress or gender identity.
5. Don’t provide incentive: That might sound counterintuitive, but many parents give their children rewards after they do their piano practice or ballet class. When I was a kid, I was somewhat bribed to practice the piano, and it didn’t make me want to do it more. Your children should want to be creative because it inspires them and makes them feel good; it shouldn’t feel like a chore. And it certainly will if you have to bribe them to do it. If you set by example–see point 2–and show them the wonders of the creative world, they will likely be inspired to become the next Banksy or David Bowie. If they're not, don’t let that stop you from continuously expressing your interests because one day, they might change their mind.
6. Support mistake-making and failure: Again, that sounds weird, but we learn from mistakes, especially children. Failing, and accepting it, is part of the process too. Teach your kids not to strive for perfection and to embrace the process rather than focus on the end product. When my brother was a kid, he’d meticulously draw something and get so upset and frustrated if he made a mistake. He was an absolute perfectionist and it wasn’t a creative mindset. He was so obsessed with avoiding errors and failure that he missed out on the beauty of the process. Plus, art is subjective, and his art looked cooler messed up than it did as a “perfect” drawing. This point spills into your parenting too, and both will affect each other. If you’re super strict with your kids and don’t tolerate mistakes, they won’t feel comfortable letting go and being creative because they’ll fear failure.
7. Introduce your kids to mindfulness for creativity: Meditation helps with pretty much everything, including creativity. Thanks to technology, we’re more focused on notifications and what’s happening on the news than being present in the moment and in tune with our bodies. Meditation helps change that, and it’s best to make it a habit early on in life. It enhances the creative side of our brains and promotes divergent thinking, which is our ability to come up with new, innovative ideas. Mindfulness will help your kids be more creative in their everyday life and make it easier for them to come up with different ideas when they’re painting, for example. It’s also a way to encourage your kids to use their screens (if they have one) for something beneficial to them.