Every parent wants their child to grow up to be well-rounded, right?
However, doing so is easier than done in our tech-crazy, hustle and bustle world. With little times in our schedules and the never-ending temptation to stick our kids in front of the television to get some peace and quiet, how can we possibly find time to encourage our kids’ creative side?
First of all, relax. Bear in mind that there’s only so much control we have in terms of how our children grow up: all we can do is create the best environment we possibly can. In my experience, creating that creative spark is actually pretty simple.
While there might be some struggles here and there, encouraging your child to use their imagination and fostering their creative side requires three distinct steps. Consider the following if you’re concerned about your child’s well-being and want to make sure you’re giving them the creative support they need.
Be a Role Model
If you want your kids to get involved with the arts, they need to see you as a role model for such behavior.
I don’t have much of a creative bone in my body, but I’ve actually made it a habit to begin handwriting letters and drawing sketches in my spare time which absolutely fascinates my daughter. While she’s not quite old enough to write herself, she loves watching me and copycatting my motions. Even so, I try to get her involved during the holidays, for example, by letting her lick the envelopes and play with Christmas stamps while I’m sending out our family cards.
Creative Toys and Games
Beyond picture books and other educational materials, consider filling your child’s toybox with artistic toys that encourage them to get creative and use their imagination. While you may not be raising the next Picasso, letting your child get their hands dirty with finger-paint is always a good starting point for creative playtime. If you’re worried about constant supervision and messes, I’ve had a surprisingly good experience with Play Doh myself.
Rethink Screen Time
There’s a lot of controversy regarding how much screen time is right for young children. I tried going totally screen-free without much success. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to find a balance between screen-time and books or creative playtime.
For example, I always read to my daughter before bed and limit any sort of TV time accordingly. Additionally, I try to find educational programming that’s calming or includes classical music versus lots of flashing colors or quick-cut editing. Sometimes just putting such programming on in the background is enough to entertain my daughter or bring her down from a tantrum.
While you don’t necessarily need to throw out your TV, try to opt for a book instead of an iPad whenever possible. There might be times where a cartoon here and there is the only thing that will calm them down, but don’t totally rely on screens as a crutch. Sometimes it pays to be firm with your child in regard to technology.
Remember: you can’t force your child to be more creative, but you can set up the right environment for them. Keep these tips in the back of your mind and you’ll be well on your way to doing exactly that.