All children have creativity and imagination within them, but not every child’s creativity is nurtured or is given the opportunity to develop. Not only is creativity integral for expression through artistic outlets (art, music, drama, literature, etc.), but it is also an essential ingredient for emotional intelligence, logical thinking, and social development. Creative thinkers are better at problem-solving, can make more meaningful human relationships, can excel in more subject areas, and are more adaptable to change. All of this means that a child with developed creative thinking has better future prospects and will likely experience better opportunities, compared to a child whose creativity has been stumped and restricted throughout their early years.
There are many ways that parents can encourage their child’s creativity and help to cultivate it. If you’re looking for ways to promote creativity and imagination within your child, here are 10 top tips.
- Give them the space to cultivate creativity
The key to allowing your child to flex their creativity is to step back and give them space. This is the best way for them to experiment and become attuned to their own creative abilities because with pressure placed on them or limited freedom they will not easily be able to express themselves. It’s advised to give your child a corner or room in your house where they play and make a mess without having to worry about the reprucutions. Of course, encourage them to tidy up after themselves, but the best type of exploration is messy and free.
- Provide them with the right resources
Aside from giving your child space, another important resource that you can give them is time. In order to really get in touch with their creativity and to really flourish, they need to be given unstructured, unencumbered and undirected time where they have the freedom to experiment with ideas, thoughts, feelings, and expression through the form of art or play. If you direct them or hinder their freedom too much, you are limiting the extent at which they can express themselves.
- Put them in environments where they can learn and grow
Children benefit hugely from being in a stimulating and supportive environment, especially when that environment involves other children their own age. This is why it’s beneficial to enroll them in a top quality music therapy program for children where their ideas can be fostered and encouraged through art, play, music, and language. Also, through interaction with other children, they can improve their language ability and become more socialized, which in turn enhances their cognitive development and makes them more school-ready.
- Don’t manage or evaluate
To foster creativity in your child it is encouraged to take them to new places, introduce them to new ideas and new people, and present them with new scenarios, as this will stimulate their ideas and result in better imagination and creative thinking. However, you must resist the temptation to evaluate, critique or manage your child’s ideas, as then they won’t be able to think for themselves. So, for example, ask them how they would like to spend their day, and instead of focussing on what ideas aren’t “right” or “possible”, focus on the process of generating the ideas in the first place.
- Give them autonomy
Leading on from the above point, you should give children the space to think and act autonomously. It may be scary, especially for first-time parents, to allow their children to move more freely and make their own decisions, but this exploration is what will encourage their creative thinking. You can gently guide them, but don’t hold their hand.
- Don’t restrict creative approaches – celebrate them
Taking a “my way or the highway” approach with your child will only hinder their creativity and imagination. They need to learn how to think for themselves and reach conclusions on their own, even if their way of reaching the same conclusion differs from yours. It’s important to allow your child to disagree with you on how things are done. In fact, you should encourage this different expression and thought process.
- Encourage reading
Creativity can also be fostered through reading. Encouraging your child to read is a great way to both enhance their language ability and cognitive development, but also their imagination. What’s more, reading about people with lives that are different to their own and about scenarios or settings they have not experienced themselves (even if the stories are fiction) it will encourage empathy. Limit screentime and urge your child to find enjoyment and pleasure in reading, drawing, playing a musical instrument or writing a story.
- Instill the importance of failure
Failure and making mistakes is part of the recipe to success, and this is something you should instil in your child from a young age. They should know that failing, picking yourself up and trying again is a part of life, and can lead to better outcomes. It should not be judged; it should be seen as essential. Once your child knows that it’s ok – even healthy – to fail, he or she will be more likely to throw themselves into new challenges and gain more life experiences.
- Keep an open dialogue
Another way to foster your child’s creativity is to ask them about their ideas and imagination. For example, if they have produced a piece of art or a drawing, ask them how they came to create it, what inspired them and when they get their best ideas. This will help to get them consciously thinking about their creations and creative approaches.
- Keep it simple
Children don’t need a lot in order to be creative. In fact, they can often create excitement out of the simplest things. Therefore, don’t feel as if you need to spend a lot of money on elaborate toys, or take them to fancy places to spark a creative buzz – their imagination is already bigger than you think, and they can cultivate innovative and imaginative thinking with the simplest of environments if you let them.