Come along with me today as I share ways we can help our children and teenagers grow in their creativity.
As many of you know, I spent 18 years of my life aiming to inspire creativity in teenagers with writing, reading, literature, research, and presentations. With the daily frequent watering of kindness, memorable learning experiences, and encouragement, I saw how the creativity inside of my students was able to be nurtured. Year after year, I would see students grow and blossom in their creativity, and this would always make me smile.
As a parent myself, I also seek to inspire creativity in my son. I’ve incorporated various activities into our weekly and monthly schedule to help nurture my son’s creativity. However, nurturing our child’s creativity is not just a lifestyle; it is also a mindset. Many parents have been asking me ways we can better nurture the creativity within our children. I thought I’d share some ideas today for you that will help you along your path in parenting.
Remember the life-giving purpose of creativity.
In my opinion, we should create to inspire others. We should create to lift each other up. We should create to heal. We should create to make a positive difference in the life of another person. Creating should be life-giving. It should not be used to discourage or bring fear; on the other hand, it should bring restoration, life, and joy to others. I strongly believe that we should use our creativity to be a light of hope to a hurting world. There is so much pain and suffering in the world already. Why not use our creativity to bring hope and healing?
Creativity then invites us to heal, grow, find joy, and find our safe haven. It then offers light in the darkness and hope in a troubled world because our creativity is tied to our purpose. It is life-giving.
Did you know that we are made in the image of God, and we are God’s workmanship? Since God is our creator, then we are also made to create. The Bible encourages us to not neglect our gifts and to do good works. In my opinion, creativity is a God-given gift, and He has given us all skills to do the work He wants us to do. God is the ultimate innovator who created the heavens, the earth, mankind, and more than we can imagine. He created mystery, so they we would go out and explore. It is the creativity we have inside of us that makes us who we are and allows us to live out our purposes in our life.
Don’t underestimate the creativity you see in your children or teenagers, because it will help them to grow in their identity and lead them into their life’s purposes.
Help your children embrace a growth mindset.
When our children are afraid to fail, they won’t try. Read that again. When our children are afraid to fail, they won’t try. Allow your children to feel like it is okay to ‘fail’. You are their safe haven; help them to feel safe even when they fail. Don’t trap them accidentally into feeling like they have to be perfect. Within reason, let them make mistakes, get messy, and figure things out. When they get frustrated, encourage them to take breaks, revisit it another time, look for other solutions, and learn from their mistakes. Offer encouraging feedback that helps them to grow into their best selves. You don’t want your child to give up before they even begin because they are afraid of messing up. A huge part of being creative is taking risks and feeling safe trying. Help your children see the value in trying things out and not being scared to try. Fear can keep us from missing out on what we are meant to do and be. While it is important to cultivate caution and discernment in our children, we have to also balance that with helping them to explore and try out new things.
Pay attention to their questions.
We want our children and teenagers to wonder. There is an art in wondering and asking why. When we ignore our children’s questions or don’t encourage our children to keep asking questions, guess what they do? They stop asking questions. One of the saddest things is when children and teenagers stop asking questions. This saddens me. When you make intentional regular time to talk to your children, also remember to allow them to ask you questions. You may not always know the answers, but you can still encourage them to ask those questions and have a heart for exploration.
Model questioning for your children with statements such as, “What if…”, “How do you know that?”, “I wonder how…”, “What makes you think that?”, or “I wonder why…”. Also, model thinking for your children. Begin your ideas at times with phrases such as, “I’m thinking how…” or “I’m thinking about…” Your child will pick up on these cues and engage in more thinking. We want our children and teenagers to pursue creative thinking, abstract thinking, critical thinking, analytical thinking, and application thinking. Inspiring thinking is so important in the creative process, and we can help with this at home. Whether we are reading with our children, watching a movie together, driving to the next sporting event, or sitting around the table, we can also allow them to ask us questions in these moments as well.
Encourage your child to pursue their passions and hobbies.
You may have your child in multiple sports, but are they pursuing any hobbies or passions on the side? When those sports end in their life, what hobbies or passions will they be able to turn to as an adult that they have cultivated as a child?
Watch your child closely. When they have nothing to do, what do they turn to? They could take art, acting, and/or music lessons each month or week. Allow them opportunities to explore music and the arts. Let them play around with various musical instruments and visit the local orchestra regularly. See what they are gravitating to and allow them to explore their passions.
Get outdoors every single day with no screens.
Give your children or teenagers unstructured time where they can create and be imaginative outdoors. Sometimes, just getting outdoors will help with any blocks to creativity.
For Younger Children: Allow them to use their imagination and make up their own pretend games. Let them be bored and engage in more imaginative play. When they are younger, they could go on a nature scavenger hunt, watch the clouds, collect rocks, make a garden, play in the creek, look for salamanders, make a fairy garden, or even make a small home for a ladybug family. The sky is the limit when kids are being imaginative. Giving them plenty of time outdoors will be good for them whether they are playing on their playset, going on their obstacle course, playing make-believe games, or throwing a frisbee.
For Older Children: They will more than likely want space to unwind, and they are always up for food! This could look like hanging out with friends outside on the patio with snacks, camping, fishing, hunting, boating, going for a run, rollerblading, riding a scooter or bike, taking walks with music or a podcast, going on nature hikes with friends, having a campfire with youth group, or playing capture the flag.
Spending more time in nature often helps us to slow down, disconnect, and remember what really matters. Make this a priority for your family.
Encourage them to be innovative.
I’ve written about this before in my STEM gift guide HERE. Feel free to check that out since I’ve detailed ways you can incorporate STEM learning each month with activities and toys. As mentioned there, you can give them monthly STEM learning activities and let them figure out how to think outside the box as they solve problems and think critically. We have enjoyed the Eureka monthly crates and the Tinker monthly crates for STEM learning. Allow them to do science experiments and sketch out their own inventions. Get their friends together and do science experiments safely. There are multiple STEM toys to pursue as well. You could also pursue a science camp over the summer or obtain a membership to a local science center. Visiting museums is a wonderful learning experience too!
Make music and the arts a priority.
Give your children time to pursue art & create. In a world that doesn’t always value art, you can value it in your home. Show your child the value of creating something. You could have them paint, enjoy photography, draw, or complete a monthly craft. As they continue to grow, continue to create a photo book every few years of their art creations. You can also continue to hang up their work in your own gallery wall at home, and put a frame around some of their artwork.
Put them in music, creative writing, theatre, or art camps. Check out your local university’s summer camp offerings for school-aged students. Also, check out your local theater or science center’s summer offerings.
Keep music in your home, and life will be a song. Play lots of instrumental music in your home. Check out more details for fostering a love for music HERE in one of my prior articles. Find a music teacher for your child and see how it goes!
I hope some of these ideas were helpful for you in your parenting journey. You may already be doing a lot of these ideas. I’d love to hear what you are doing. Feel free to comment below or share this post with a friend who may be looking for more creative ideas for their children or teenagers.