Creativity is like a muscle that needs to be worked in order to grow. If this is true, then encouraging your children to use this “muscle” habitually from a young age will ensure it continues throughout their lives. When we think of life skills, we often think of things like communication, assertiveness, or self-awareness. But teaching kids to think creatively is just as important as anything else. Looking to encourage creativity in your own children? Here are a few things you can do to get started.
Let kids play.
One of the best ways to help children grow in their creative thinking is to let them play. Even more than that, it’s important to let them lead during play. While you’re playing with your kids, try to take a step back and let them decide what to do. It can be tempting for you to jump in and initiate new activities, especially when the current ones are starting to get boring, but child-led playtime is an opportunity for them to be inventive.
According to Playgroup WA, kids benefit tremendously by leading play. They learn to figure things out for themselves and develop innovative ways to think about the world. This also allows them to act out situations that are troubling them in order to work through their emotions in a safe way.
Give kids time and space.
Kids thrive on routine—They like to know when they’ll be taking their nap, when they’ll be having lunch, etc. But within that routine, it’s important to keep in mind that imaginations are built when kids are given the freedom to explore (and play) on their own. This will help children learn how to keep themselves entertained.
If you’re working with younger children, make sure they have the tools they need to play by themselves. This means giving them toys that they already know or can figure out how to work on their own. For example, a rocking horse seems like a great idea, but when a child is playing independently, are they able to get on it by themselves? If not, they may get frustrated. These are important things to consider when deciding the setting and boundaries of independent play.
It’s important to note that independent play takes practice. An easy way to start is by implementing a timer method. Start with 15-minutes and slowly increase it as your child gets more comfortable. Tell your child something like, “I’m going to set a timer and you are going to play by yourself. If you have a problem, try to solve it. I’m going to be in the kitchen making dinner and you can come help when the timer goes off.”
Guide children to answer their own questions.
When your child has a question or a problem, try to avoid giving them the answer right away. Instead, encourage kids to generate as many of their own ideas as possible, according to ScreenFreeParenting. From there, help them poke holes in the ideas they came up with, as well as potential ways to solve them. This will make it easier for them to take pieces of each of their ideas and bring them together into a comprehensive solution.
Sure, it would be easy to just give your child the answer they’re looking for … it would be a lot less time-consuming, and maybe even less frustrating on both ends. But by gently nudging them to come up with a solution for themselves, they’ll be challenged to get creative and think outside the box.
Creativity will be important throughout your child’s entire life—when they have problems in the workplace, when they try something new, and so many other instances. That’s why it’s extremely important to make sure they are equipped with creative thinking skills that will help them as they grow.
For more parenting tips and tricks from us, read our blog on ways you can better relate to your teenager.