How To Infuse More Creativity Into Your Kids
And help them retain it
Logic will take you from A to B.
Imagination will take you everywhere.
It is a general perception that creativity is a relative quality- some people have it and some don’t. But, that is not true. It is an inborn quality. The problem is when you do not use it, it decreases and the more you use it, the more you have.
I am naturally drawn towards children because their thoughts intrigue me. They can tell you things which you wouldn’t have thought of. Give a piece of paper to a kid and see what all they can encompass in that space.
It is because their mind has not been polluted with prejudices, nor cluttered with logic. It is filled with boundless possibilities.
And there are numerous ways to keep that creativity intact, in fact, enhance it.
Curbing The Urge To Make Things ‘Better’
What do you do when your 3-year-old comes running with a paper, saying- Mummy, see my elephant! The eyes all twinkling and tone brimming with excitement.
As you hold the paper, trying really hard to find the ‘elephant’ in that, you also hold the key to encourage your kid to hold on to that creativity. The key lies in your response.
I remember a dialogue in the film ‘The sky is pink’, where the son tells his mother about how he was reprimanded in school by his teacher for coloring the sky pink. The mother tells him- for you, the sky is pink and never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Supress the urge to make the creations of your child a bit better. Because it is already perfect in their eyes! Appreciate the effort.
And while we are at it, appreciating a child’s effort does not start and end with a cursory glance and an elongated WOW. Take aside some time, hold the thing, look at it, giving undivided attention, and say a word or two as what you like in it, and then give it back with a word of encouragement. Because:
The best thing you can invest in your child is— TIME.
Encouraging Some Amount Of Boredom
I have been guilty of this crime, till I stumbled upon an article on how boredom in small doses is healthy for a child.
There an immediate urge in us parents to engage our children, at all times. We feel an idle mind is not great for a kid. But science has backed the theory that a blank mind is sometimes the most active.
Boredom is nothing but a time when the mind does not know what to do next. But then, this is the time when the mind wanders into different directions and explores new things.
Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves, says child psychologist, Dr. Vanessa Lapointe.
An article in Melbourne Child Psychology states that occasional boredom in children instills creative imagination and problem-solving skills in children at an early age.
Observe the child but never rush to keep him busy. Idling, thinking, ideating, imagining, dreaming-are all healthy exercises.
Making Them See Something In Everything
A mosaiced floor, random scribbles, wet bathroom floor, coffee stains, clouds-they all have something common among them. Give up?
They hold limitless shapes waiting to be spotted. My daughter enjoys the games we play. We spot some shapes in some really bizarre places.
This develops the mind's ability to imagine things within chaos, a certain clarity within the clutter.
It trains the mind to look beyond what is just visible.
Can you spot anything in this:
A sea horse, a duck, a dragon, a praying monk, a girl, an orangutan, even a hint of Cupid(running)!
Asking The Right Questions
Questions are triggers for the mind to hunt for answers. When used constructively with children, it can open a lot of doors for them and encourage them to think more objectively.
Letting children explore for the answers helps them build their own beliefs and broaden their thought processes.
Sometimes it is also better to respond to a question with a question, rather than give away the answer.
When the mind receives an answer, it stops processing the problem, thus limiting itself to delve into it further.
Say, for example, after a story session, you may ask the kid things like which character did they like the most, and the least, what was it they liked or disliked, what would they have done in this situation.
Take for example Cinderella. Do you think she was doing the right thing? Why don’t you like the sisters? What if you were in Cinderella’s place?
This can also be extrapolated when there are certain decisions to be made. From picking the shirt to pair with the jeans/skirt to deciding which activities to choose.
This makes them imagine the outcome of the choice and also helps them in their decision-making ability.
Providing a Space
Designating a space for the kid to be creative conditions the mind, signaling it about the area being the place where they can do anything and be anything. But, it is not that they should be allowed to do things in other places.
For my daughter, it was a space below a shelf. It was like her den. She could be there for hours and play on her own. She ‘owned’ that place. A lot of her scribbling and ‘creations’ have been made there.
Teaching Them To Embrace Failure
Actually, failure is a wrong term here.
There can never be a failure. Everything is a creation. No event has zero outcomes.
Teaching children to accept the final outcome encourages them to keep doing things and trying. A much better way is to laugh off when things don’t turn out the way as expected. When the outcome does not bother the child, it encourages him/her to give it another try.
Again, it is a great life skill, I am sure you will agree.
Exposing Them To Various Things
When children are exposed to various kinds of things, it equips the mind to process things better, to amalgamate things, and accept newness in life.
Stories are wonderful ways to open the doors of creativity. The more bizarre the ones, the better. I remember my husband telling impromptu stories to my daughter(still does) that had talking cows who aspired to be a singer, monkeys troubled with lice, a rabbit that was tech-savvy and perennially petrified of a non-existent murderer.
Stories are wonderful ways to give the mind an open canvas to paint anything-defying all logic and reason. As a versatile tool, they can be used to teach these super-rich minds to dream.
Books. Even before I was a parent, I was clear on one thing. I will never try to enforce anything on my kid, sans reading. That is one thing I will ensure my kid has.
Oh! What doesn’t reading do? Man’s best friend, no doubt. And everyone is too well informed about the benefits of being in the company of books.
Art and activities have always been the creator's best teachers. Art, in any form, not just gives the child the space to explore his creativity, it is also a reflection of their feelings and emotions.
Activities such as pottery, play dough, paper, sand, water, etc. also give kids the freedom to express, explore, and educate themselves.
The list is actually endless!
As Pablo Picasso had once said:
Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.
I, as a parent, personally feel that every single response has its impact on the child. Every event is an opportunity to help your child.
Creativity in kids is an art that needs to be perfected by the parents first. The onus is on us, parents, to help our kids to retain their creativity.