Your kids are happy, right?
What if I told you that you could nurture healthier, happier kids with improved brain function and better moods - all whilst creating a positive impact on their social lives? Well, there’s no magic pill for all that but there is a little something special called creativity.
Creativity noun -
1. the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.
As a lover of all things creative (author and picture book creator) I believe nurturing creativity in a child has a positive impact on their development, self esteem and long-term problem solving skills.
When my son was little, engaging him in creative play was a really important part of our day and, whilst I had created a craft room most kids would kill for, I didn’t want to pressure him into anything specific. Instead, I let him play with whatever he was drawn to.
Along with craft and art supplies, I gave him a variety of creative options in the form of musical instruments, games, puzzles, puppets and blocks.
Like most parents, I guess I expected him to take an interest in drawing or colouring, but for him, creativity came in the form of his Matchbox cars.
Lining them up, naming each one, creating sets and race tracks, calling each race as though he were a professional commentator. When he was done with that, he usually gravitated toward one of the musical instruments – drums one day, keyboards or guitar the next…
It was this freedom that made me realise that creativity comes in many forms. My son was happiest (and more engaged) when he was playing with things that interested him rather than with those I prompted him to try.
Studies show that creative activities can work to decrease stress and improve overall health and wellness, while increasing critical thinking skills and guide self-reflection. With all these benefits in mind, here are 5 tips for harnessing creativity to cultivate healthier and happier kids.
1: TRUST THE PROCESS
Raising creative kids is about trusting the process – it’s not about whether the tree they’ve drawn is an accurate representation, but rather the fun they’ve had drawing it. There are thousands of trees, plants and flowers in the world and there’s no right or wrong way to draw them. The beauty of the process is that your child engages in creative freedom.
Award winning movie director Tim Burton says: “Don’t worry about how you ‘should’ draw it. Just draw it the way you see it.”
Creativity is also about inspiring kids to see things from different perspectives and to question their surroundings. Why are some leaves longer than others? Why do they change colours with the coming of new seasons? By encouraging this dialogue, you’re engaging in critical thinking and problem solving.
2: HAVE SOME FUN
Some of our favourite times are when I am 100% present and we’re being silly together. There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing the sound of a child’s uncontrollable giggles.
Jokes, silliness and riddles allow kids to practice thinking outside the box in a fun way. Their imagination is immediately engaged and their creativity is instantly rewarded when they can get a laugh out of you. As soon as you say ‘Knock, Knock’ their little minds are racing with the endless possibilities of who could be there!
3: START A STORY
Got some downtime whilst you’re on a long road trip? Start a story! Promote creative thinking by giving them a starting point – for example, start them off with the first few words - ‘once upon a time there was a puppy…’ they can then continue telling the story based on your prompt.
More than one child? Have each one follow on with a new sentence – the story may have started with puppies, but you’ll never guess where it will end…
4: BE A ROLE MODEL
Paint. Draw. Sing. Yoga. Dance. Create. However you choose to express yourself creatively – let your kids see you doing it!
Kids mimic the adults around them. Seeing you engage in something that brings you joy shows them that it’s ok for them to do it too. Have fun, find the child in you and connect with the child in them. Fly a kite, bake some cookies, build a rocket ship, battle dragons, have a Princess party, fly to the moon...
Through all of this imaginative play your child is actively experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. Through cooperative play, they learn how to take turns, share responsibility, and creatively problem-solve.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun” – Albert Einstein
5: SLOW DOWN
Quiet time is crucial to a developing mind. Switch off electronics and provide space for quiet, reflective time. Freeing up their schedule gives them the opportunity to explore alternative passions – and they don’t always have to be creative.
Whether it be artistic, mathematical, instrumental or written, as long as they are engaged in the activity, the benefits to their developing brains are endless!
Now, pass the crayons…
Mary Anastasiou A self confessed chocoholic, pluviophile and lover of all things kid lit, Mary writes books that she hopes will engage, inspire and empower little people on their journey to becoming big people.
Grab copies of Mary's books today! CLICK HERE.