We were running late. My threenager was in her room picking out an outfit for the day (aka playing with her pom poms and doll house) while I changed the baby’s diaper. I reminded her again that if she didn’t get dressed, mommy would start counting. (For this kid, mommy counting means the end of the world.)
A few minutes later, she entered the living room sporting leopard print leggings, a glitter skirt, a flower pattern tank top—with a blue cardigan, mismatched headband, and pink tennis shoes—without socks. I took one look at her, thought for a moment about whether requiring a matching outfit for my kid was worth the fuss, then said, “Let’s go!” She wore that outfit with confidence.
Each time I witness my daughter expressing her creativity—as she did that day, a part of me wants to tell her the “correct” way to do that thing: how to match patterns and colors with clothing, how to color that paper, how to build that tower, etc. But then? I usually bite my tongue because I realize I am actually jealous of her uninhibited ways. There is a part of me that wishes I would be confident enough to make that, wear that, or say that.
Kids are wired from the beginning to be creative. When they are young, they have not yet experienced the “must be’s” or “must do’s” that are so ingrained in every culture. When you think about it, this is such a gift. How do we, as parents, encourage our kids to keep their creativity and look at the world in a unique way?
Below are 6 easy ways to raise creative kids.
Let them make mistakes.
Even more importantly? Let them work on fixing the mistake. This can be during play time. If the tower they build with blocks keeps on falling, ask them what they could do to make it sturdy. Let them try. Let them fail.
Read books, books and more books.
Books open up new worlds to kids and can be a catalyst for their imaginations to soar. The Nashville Public Library has thousands of book selections for children if you don’t have many books in your house. And there are tons of great reading programs (with prizes!) to further encourage your kids during the summer.
Let your kids play and explore outdoors.
Let their brain be free to engage with the world in an unstructured way. Structure is good and important, but it is also necessary for each of us to have times where we have the freedom to explore without constraints. It’s prime breeding ground for creativity. Nashville has so much to offer in regards to outdoor activities. Check out our local parks list, this article on creating your own natural playscape, or the Nashville Parks and Recreation page for more information.
Let your kids follow their curiosity.
This winter we had a small stream of ants that lived in our bathroom. Our daughter was enthralled with these little guys. She said she wanted to make them a place to live. We let her use some of the items around the house to build an ant home. She was able to create and learn—and it didn’t cost us a dime.
Let them get messy.
Don’t do pre-determined art with them every time. This makes it easier on us and frees their creative minds. Give them a brush, paint, and paper—and let them go! If you want to do this outside of the house, the Martin ArtQuest Gallery at The Frist is a perfect hands-on environment for it.
Turn their question back around to them.
Your kid asks questions, right? Instead of answering every time, turn the question around. Ask, “Why do YOU think that is?” Some of the answers I get when I ask this are amazing. Some are hilarious. Each time I do this, they create answers in their head, pulling from all that they know (not necessarily what we know as parents).
Our kids will have people telling them how to do things the rest of their life. Why not let them learn and express themselves while they are young in ways that won’t hurt them or others around them?
I could really learn a thing or two from my daughter. What do you think? Is this something I could emulate?