How to raise creative children? – Let them be!
Now that we know that creativity is super important, can we actually raise children to be more creative? Are some children born creative and others not? Can we, as parents and teachers, do anything to give our children this very essential skill?
Well, the good thing is that creativity is just like any other skill – it can be taught, learnt and mastered. Small changes in our daily routines, and the way we spend time with our children can increase their creativity substantially.
In this post I will focus on the 2 things we should let the children do, which naturally increases their creative juices. This doesn’t require too much effort on our side. All it needs is a little restraint to let them DO.
1. Messy is not bad – This is one of the most important things, one of the most simple, and yet the most ignored. The reason for ignoring is simple – most parents are guilty of continually asking their children to keep the house and their rooms tidy, everything in its proper place (ofcourse it is usually a useless exercise). Well, spare yourselves the trouble! Messy is not bad. Many psychologists suggest that children need to have a ‘messy corner’ where they can be themselves. Depending on what the child is interested in, let that corner be filled with things they like to play with. Let the builder have lots of blocks to build any structures or shapes they like. They need not make the structures or shapes that come in the accompanying booklets. Let the artistic type have papers and colours for them to draw whatever they want (not imitate from a book and definitely not just colour in a colouring book). Let the designer have old dresses to dress up themselves or their dolls in various styles. These are all expressions of creativity. Do NOT try to clean it up everyday. When they bring a creation to you, do NOT start by stating what you think it is (“Is this a circular building?”, you ask seeing a circular structure of blocks. “No, mom! It is a spaceship, can’t you see? How does it look like a building to you?”). Instead, always ask them to explain what they have built or drawn. Very often, you might be surprised at the way they think.
2. Unstructured Time – To allow them to be messy however, will not work unless unstructured play time is given. Resist the urge to manage every minute, to make every minute count. It is not your job or your responsibility to keep them busy or entertained every minute of the day. Its ok for them to be bored sometimes. Let them be bored, let them doodle, tinker and while away their time. Soon they will start making their own games, designs, stories. Do not judge what they do – “That’s sounds like a silly game. Let me help you lay down some rules to make it fun”. Just play along when they come up with new ideas and it is quite likely that your child will realise himself/herself that some more rules need to be laid down. Let them draw, build, write, enact anything they want. Do not search for logic at all times and do not tell them what they ‘should have’ done – “you could have drawn a sunflower if you could not draw a rose”. They might be well-meaning comments/observations but will not do well for the child to try and make another game or to try and draw something out of memory, or do anything beyond what everyone else is doing.
These are the building blocks of thinking differently, perhaps not logical, perhaps not something which you expect them to think but their neurons are firing and new connections are being made. Pablo Picasso once said – “ My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”
A century back, spaceships, mobiles, laptops would have all seemed illogical -but they are the reality because someone had the courage to think, act and do, beyond what was deemed possible or logical. Let their creativity blossom unhindered, unalloyed – just let them be!