The idea that people are born creative is a bit of a myth. Some children might have a natural aptitude with a set of paint or a musical instrument, of course, but creativity is a skill that you can teach, and nurture in your children.
The big question is, what can you do to encourage your children to be more creative? Here are a few ideas.
Get them to do new things
Try and ask your children what they want to do – but encourage them to choose something new. Children learn so much from having new experiences, and it can help them think in a more creative way. Give them room to challenge themselves, and don’t decide for them. The more constraints you bind them in, the less likely they will be to think freely – a central part of creativity.
Don’t rely on toys
Being creative is all about imagination, so it’s important to let your children use their brains. It’s all too easy to buy them toys from the shops, that already have personalities, names, and that they see in character on the TV. The idea is to encourage them to play more in a child-directed way, rather than rely on what they are told. Dressing up, craftwork, and a large space to let their imaginations run wild will help foster their creative thoughts.
Try not to reward children for being creative, as it will help them foster a sense of self-motivation. Real creativity comes from within, not as a response. That’s not to say that you can’t congratulate them at all – you can, of course, but be more ‘creative’ with your praise. For example, if they paint a wonderful picture, why not get some poster frames and help them mount it on their bedroom wall? Anything you can do to encourage their own motivation will help them far more than a packet of sweets or a new toy.
Let them fail
People learn through their failures – and it’s, even more, apparent in small children. Teach your children that it’s OK to make a mistake, especially if they are doing something for the first time. Talk to them about mistakes you have made in the past – within reason, of course, and most importantly, have a laugh and joke the next time you burn something in the oven or paint over something you shouldn’t have.
Read to them
Do you read your children a bedtime story every night? I know how tough it can be to muster the energy – especially after a long, hard day, but it’s vital for their creative development. It gets them forming pictures to the words that you tell them, and it will help encourage them to learn to read. It’s going to be so important as they grow older to have a release other than the television – and bedtime stories are the starting point. Audio CD stories are also a wonderful addition to a bedtime routine.
How do you encourage your children to be creative?