Creativity in Your Children
Julie says that her three children, ages 10 and 11, are so absorbed in homework and school activities that they just have no time to be creative. She tells, “I remember when they were young, they drew and painted and played with play-dough. And now everything is different; after my children do their homework and activities, they just sit in front of the screen, either TV or computer and play games or watch TV. It’s so disheartening to see young minds so unimaginative and so dependent on manmade machinery…”
From the first baby hand tentatively digging in the bowl of cereal and eagerly fingering the lumpy texture to crayon writing on the walls, the fun of taking an every-day activity and making a game centered on it are the motivators for the natural creativity that these days is being lost too soon. According to Devika Singh, Clinical Psychologist at Dubai’s Herbal and Treatment Center, generally creativity has been defined as the interpersonal and intrapersonal process by which original, high quality, and genuinely significant products are developed. “This product could be anything from a painting to a new game and in fact, all children are born with creative potential,” she says. “This can be nurtured and developed by the adults in a child’s life by providing them with an environment that fosters creativity.” A few signs that a child may be creatively endowed from an early age is when parents often report that their child applies innovative ways of approaching and solving problems—“They may ask interesting and original questions, combine different materials in a unique way, constantly develop distinctive inventions or perhaps display artistic and verbal creativity,” she says.
How Parents Can Help
Be it painting or coloring, Singh stresses that for young children, the process of actually ‘doing’ an activity is always the important thing. “Many sensitive children are frightened away from creative activities when they sense that they are expected to produce something,” she says. “Similarly, avoid evaluating your child’s work–a child who begins to draw or make up songs in order to please an adult has already lost some of the courage to experiment and enthusiasm for creativity that is so difficult to hold on to as we grow up.” For the young toddler, allowing the freedom to have creative play can range from building towers using building blocks to playing dress-up, rhythm instruments and other activities which should always be available, plus the supervised use of sand, water, crayons, play dough and paint. “Do not forget to allow and appreciate creative–but not destructive–use of ordinary household things such as pans, shoeboxes or sofa cushions,” says Singh.
Why It Matters
In an era where multi-tasking takes precedence, in the lives of our children today, creativity is as important for the brain as a healthy diet. “It can be a source of self-worth for some children and it can prepare them for many of life’s challenges, which require a creative approach in order to succeed,” explains Singh as children who are creative will be prepared for the constant changes that occur in our world, where they may have to adapt to several careers in a lifetime. “In fact, many employers want employees who see connections, have bright ideas, are innovative, communicate and work well with others and are able to solve problems,” she says, so in other words, they need creative people.
Creativity also allows children to express their individuality and without this, their sense of self-worth would not flourish and they may feel confined, indicates Singh. “The freedom to express oneself is a basic human need, and creative expression is the route to fulfilling this need,” she explains. But more importantly, creative expression can be cathartic for children. It can be a way of expressing how they feel, which is often difficult to verbalize. “Art and Music therapy are useful ways of helping children express themselves and are used extensively in conjunction with other modes of therapy,” she says
To Do at Home:
Set up a restaurant
Decide on a three course meal and ask your children to create proper menus with prices. They can dress the table and ask dad to take his seat when he returns from work
If you have a million and one things to do and no time to do it, give your kids a container with plastic spoons, forks, buttons, yarn, anything you have at home and ask them to sort these by colour.
Start off with something simple like sugar free jelly and work your way up to more challenging dishes like cake. You could set a cooking task for each week and invite a group of their friends round to sample the result. It also offers a great way to teach your child about food and the importance of
Build a tent
Tents are inspirational places for role-play and imaginative activities. Simply stand four chairs together and use sheets and blankets to make the roof, door and floor. If you have enough space, you could even use tables, stools and other furniture to create little rooms and sections inside.
Make play dough
Mix together one cup of plain flour, half a cup of salt and two tablespoons of cream of tartar, then add a cup of water and mix until smooth. Add a dash of food coloring followed by two tablespoons of oil and cook on a medium heat, stirring constantly until the dough forms a ball for toxic-free play dough.
Tidy up days
Create tidy up days for all the family to participate in. You can have a complete house overhaul or focus on individual rooms by moving furniture around or adding shelves/new pictures or photographs. It’s an easy, practical way to multi-task by keeping the kids entertained and ensuring the house looks its best.
Role play games
Keep a big bag or box ready with over-sized clothes, hats, shoes, dresses; everything that can help your child become a princess or pirate. Let them choose and enjoy the fun of role playing.
Make a collection bag
Give your child a bag and ask them to collect things on their way. Whether its grass and leaves from the back garden or sand and pebbles from the local beach, they’ll enjoy exploring their surroundings and trying to find unusual, interesting items to put in their bag.
Shaving foam, soapy water, corn flour…there are fun and easy ways to enjoy messy play – both indoors and out. Get your tot to help you make the mixture and pile it all into a bowl or plastic table where they can squeeze the mixture through their fingers and make little sculptures and shapes. This helps them learn and experiment with textures and materials