By Marcia Hall
Creativity in a child gives him more than just the ability to play pretend or be artistic, it also leads a child to think and reason for himself. Having a well-tuned imagination will give your child an advantage when he enters the adult world. When he can look at an issue from many points of view and imagine several solutions he will be an asset in any career he chooses. Here are a few ways to help encourage creativity and abstract thinking in your child.
Let your child be bored from time to time. If children are not too busy with their extracurricular activities these days, they are usually in front of some type of screen. There is little to no imaginary thought in TV, video games and computer games. When your child whines to you that he is has nothing to do, tell him that you are confident he will find something interesting to do and leave it at that. Let him come up with the activity.
Be okay with messes and mistakes. Creativity requires trial and error. Trial and error sometimes means messes, and at times it creates mistakes. It can be very difficult for parents to accept that in order for their child to learn to think outside the box, he will have to first make a giant mess of that box. There is no reason your child cannot help you clean the mess up or fix whatever might be broken, but by making mistakes your child will learn a lot.
Give your child warning when transitions are coming. For a truly creative child who is mostly in his own world, transitions can be challenging to say the least. You can assist your child in making these transitions by giving him several warnings when he is going to be required to participate in family events or go somewhere. Giving him a clear schedule with plenty of “play” time can help a child that does not tend to be creative to let loose and find his creativity.
There are no dumb comments or questions. The quickest way to stop a creative child in his tracks is to say or act as if the things he observes or the questions he asks are silly. A child whose thoughts are creatively inquisitive should be encouraged.
Encourage your child to come up with the answers on her own. As your imaginative child bombards you with question after question, it is important not just to answer his questions, but to encourage him to look for the answers on his own. Responding to him with your own questions can be a great way to accomplish this. “What do you think a few possibilities would be?” “How do you think you could find the answer to that question?” These are two great responses. When your child is younger, you can help him find the answers in books and online. As he grows, he should be encouraged to find the answers on his own.
Celebrate your child’s individual characteristics. Siblings can often get lumped together, especially multiples or siblings with similar personalities. To grow creativity, parents need to recognize and praise their children for the individual talents that make them unique.
Suggest rather than tell the child how to play. Toys these days seem to have a “right” way to play them, but a creative child will take that toy and make something new out of it. Parents that want to encourage this process will need to learn to be okay with pieces of toys being out of place and used for other means. Telling a child that he is playing “wrong” will stop the imagination process in its tracks.
Get down and make believe with your child. The most important way to build any characteristic or habit in a child is to do it with him. If you want your child to learn to be creative, you have to first show that tendency. This can scare a lot of parents who don’t consider themselves to be very good at using their imagination, and some parents might even feel silly playing “pretend” with their child. However, it is possibly the most important way you can help your child learn to be creative on his own.
Parenting a truly creative child is a high duty. Whether your child is creative artistically, loves to pretend or is just really good at thinking outside the box, letting him complete a project to see how it will end is very important. It can be difficult, but watching him discover the world through the process is priceless.