We all have a creative side. Whether we love making models, performing plays, dancing to music, whipping up a culinary storm in the kitchen or designing the garden of our dreams, there is much satisfaction to be gained from discovering a creative outlet that we can use to express ourselves and develop our passions and skills.
It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone that children can get as much joy and satisfaction from indulging in creative activities as adults, and their interests can even inspire long and fulfilling careers. Or end up as lifelong hobbies and past-times that will help them unwind from life’s stresses, grow in self-confidence and add something beautiful to the world around them.
So, how can we encourage our children to embrace their creativity and use it to discover more about who they are and what makes them tick? Here are five ways to get started.
Space to create
Allowing your child enough space – both physically and metaphorically to be creative in is the most important thing you can do to encourage their imagination to run riot. It doesn’t have to be a massive area. Allocating a room, or part of a room for areas such as a dressing up box, makeshift stage, Lego table, arts and crafts station or a special flower bed in the garden will give your child the confidence to experiment with their creativity and to spread out while doing so instead of having to worry about keeping out of anyone else’s way or to tidy up as they go. Let them have the space mentally to be creative too. Don’t shut down their ideas or take over their project in a bid to make things ‘perfect’. Children usually prefer to work things out their own way and in their own time.
Time to imagine
Speaking of time, another valuable gift you can give your children to help them in their quest to become creative is not to overfill their day with tasks, routines, appointments and commitments. Leave spaces in their timetable around all the schoolwork, family events, homework times, music practices and sports coaching slots to simply do whatever comes to mind. Help them embrace different avenues of creativity by limiting their screen time and thus forcing them to find something else to do. Boredom can often prompt unprecedented bursts of creativity and investigations into new activities and ideas that could become much-loved hobbies and interests over time.
Ideas to inspire
Having said all that about allowing time to develop new ideas and creative projects, some children find it harder to know where to start that others. That’s where a few structured activities can come in handy to kickstart passions and develop early inclinations towards a certain art, craft or creative endeavour. Children often enjoy attending performing arts clubs and classes like drama, choir or dance, where they can work with other, like-minded people on bigger projects and productions to showcase their talents and hone their creative skills. In the same way, clubs based on art, photography, model making, Lego or coding can often open up new ideas and approaches and provide additional inspiration for creating something amazing. Who knows, you might even become inspired to try something new and creative yourself.
A whole world to enjoy
Complementing the idea of attending a few structured clubs and classes is the suggestion to expose your children to as much of the wider world around them as you through everyday activities and special trips out. These needn’t cost the world – a simple nature walk will offer the chance to collect twigs, leaves and berries to make some nature-based art. Tickets to a free, or subsidised music concert could inspire them to pick up an instrument themselves or watching a cookery programme together on TV could spark off a discussion about cuisines from other countries and a series of meal plans that encompass different styles of cooking and working with food.
A mind to explore
Our minds are incredible things, capable of coming up with truly amazing creative ideas. Talk to your children about what they are thinking about and discuss ways in which you could work together to bring their ideas to life through music, art, drama and more. Don’t rule anything out that they come up with, and try to resist the urge to over-manage them to the point where you take over and the creativity that is being used no longer comes from them. Be patient and give them the space to come up with their own solutions to a problem. This will really help boost their confidence and ability to rely on their own creative minds for solutions and ideas.