7 Strategies for Supporting your Child’s Creativity

Posted on March 12 2017

There is nothing more satisfying and fulfilling for children than to be able to express themselves openly and without judgement. Creativity is the freest form of self-expression. The ability to be creative, to create something from personal feelings and experiences, can reflect and nurture children’s emotional health. The experiences children have during their first years of life can significantly enhance the development of their creativity.

Take stock of your toys – Flashy electronic toys are fun, but they don’t offer children opportunities for open-ended, imaginative play. Make sure to have basic art supplies at home such as paper, crayons, glue, stickers, clay, along with toys like building blocks, puzzles, or costumes for dress-up.

Cut the screen time – Set limits on TV and iPad time. Try designating a certain time during the week when your entire family will put down mobile phones and work on a creative project. Perhaps a large puzzle or even a poster sized colouring in paper.

Embrace mistakes – Children who are afraid of failure are less likely to think creatively. Teach your child that mistakes are opportunities for growth. Ask, “What could you do differently next time?” Be patient with your child and model patience as he or she learns new skills or tries a new project.

Encourage curiosity – Don’t undermine kids’ natural curiosity by being frustrated when your child asks lots of questions. Embrace it! Ask, “What if” questions, and encourage your child to use his or her imagination.

Offer constructive praise – Too much praise can make a child “hooked” on success. Instead of offering general praise (“You’re so smart!”), offer specific feedback that praises your child’s effort or the process he or she used (“You found a great way to paint that scene,” or “I can tell you’ve been practising.”) Offer non-verbal praise (a hug or a thumbs-up), or implicit encouragement by displaying your child’s work on the fridge.

But step back sometimes – If a child feels constantly watched, he or she may be less likely to try new ideas. Give your child space to play on his or her own. Wait until your child is finished drawing to ask what he or she has made.

Look for community resources – Check your local library, museum, or community centre for art classes or music workshops to try new creative skills. Perhaps try teaming up with a neighbour or friend to host an art playdate. Some projects can be time-consuming or expensive, but working together with other families can help ease the burden.

Remember, play is the serious business of young children and the opportunity to play freely is vital to their healthy development. So, pay attention to play, plan for and encourage it!

Happy playing…

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