While being active and trying new physically challenging activities is great for boosting kids’ confidence, creativity and the arts can also boost their confidence. The problem is, traditional school doesn’t encourage kids to be creative often, so the impact you have on their creative processes can be very important. Creative thinking isn’t just for artists and designers – many modern career fields require employees to be able to think creatively and come up with innovative solutions. Because of this, it’s important to teach your kids habits that instill the confidence in them to be creative and try new creative ventures. Here are 5 ways you can encourage your kid to be a more creative person.
1. Encourage them to make mistakes and fail.
School projects will teach your kiddos to color inside the lines and follow instructions, but they don’t have to follow those rules with art all the time! At home, try setting up a project where kids can take the creative route they choose. It can be as simple as giving them crayons and paper, or more complex, like giving them paint and a canvas and asking them to paint what Atlantis would look like. You can encourage them to fail smarter by getting them to try new projects that may sound ambitious (like writing a skit for their summer camp talent show!), and let them know that it’s ok if it ends up not going as planned.
2. Let them brainstorm when it comes to thinking up new ideas. Discuss all the possibilities.
When you’re thinking about what to do on the weekend, what to make for Friday night dinner, or what to get your spouse or your kid’s friend for their birthday, try sitting down with your kiddo and asking them for a few ideas. You might get crazy responses or ideas, and that’s great. Don’t say “no” to any idea right away. Rather, focus on drawing as many ideas as possible from your kid’s brain, then talk with them about how you can make one of them happen. For example, if they suggest getting their friend a pony for their birthday, see if you could go to the store and pick out a toy pony. Or, if they answer that they want to go to Disneyland this weekend, see if you could spend an afternoon dressing up as Disney characters, staging a Disney parade, or spending time at the local water park instead.
3. Encourage kids to have down time and participate in whatever hobby naturally interests them.
As an obstacle course race for kids, we are certainly enthusiastic about fitness and getting kids on their feet, but we also see the value in giving kids some down time to try different hobbies. Allow your child to take an hour or two to do whatever interests them – whether that’s reading about dinosaurs, finger painting, or learning how to weave. You can even get creative and encourage them to take part in the arts outdoors. Pack up some painting or sketching supplies, take them to the local park, and draw or paint the view with them. As they get older, make sure you both invest in whatever hobbies interest them. Just as sports are important, it can be just as valuable to invest time and money in activities like choir, the debate team, or after school art programs.
4. Instead of praising the artist, praise their work.
We all love our kids and think they’re the best little humans to walk this earth. However, if a kid grows up believing they’re the best at their hobby, they’ll be very discouraged (and maybe even quit) when they experience failure for the first time. When your kid creates something beautiful or interesting, instead of complimenting them, compliment their work. Instead of compliments like “You’re the best artist I’ve ever met!” or “You’re going to be an amazing painter someday!”, try compliments like “This picture is so unique!”, “This painting makes me feel really happy!”, “I love how hard you worked on this drawing!” or “I really like how you drew that elephant in that style.” These types of compliments will go so much further in helping them gain confidence, and become better at their craft, which will help them become more creative people in the long run. Praising the effort they put into a hobby or piece they love will also help them learn that their talents can only improve with hard work.
5. Avoid managing their creativity. Instead, ask about their process.
There will be many opportunities in the future for your kids to get feedback and constructive criticism on their work. When they come to you with something they created, try asking them why or how they made it, instead of what you think it should look like. For example, if they colored the grass in their drawing blue, avoid telling them that it should be green. Instead, ask them something like “Why did you choose to make the grass in this drawing blue?” Or, if you think their drawing looks like a cat mixed with an alien, ask them why they drew the head or ears like they did. You may get strange answers (like, maybe they meant to draw a cat-alien hybrid), but your child can surprise you with their creativity as well.