Creative Child

Want a Resilient Kid? Unleash Their Creativity

by Rebecca Eanes


Engage in Creative Play

Painting, sculpting, crafting, role-play, music, drawing, and dancing are all forms of creative play. To ensure that your child engages in a regular routine of creative play, consider designating a special art corner or space in your home for creative play. This space could include an easel with paper and paints, a desk with a drawing pad and pencils, playdough,  etc. To ensure that the space gets used and not forgotten, build this into your child’s daily routine. Set aside a specific time each day and be consistent. Perhaps creative play happens right after nap time or every evening at 5 pm or directly after breakfast. The goal is to make it a natural part of daily life.

Encourage Kids to Try and to Fail

Yes, fail! I know it sounds like odd parenting advice, but the messages our children hear are so often focused around succeeding, winning, or mastery. Get good grades. Win the game. Earn a new stripe on your belt. We push them to succeed and sometimes we even punish them when they don’t. As you might imagine, this leads to fear of failure, and that’s the opposite of building resilience!

Fear of failure stifles creativity, but the truth is that, without failure, there would be no creativity. Imagine if all of our great innovators and inventors had given up after the first failure! If we can give our kids the message that failure is part of the learning process, we can get them past the roadblocks so they can really unleash their potential. To help this along, focus on the process and not the outcome. We set our kids and ourselves up for disappointment when we expect every creative session to result in a masterpiece. If we think what we produce has to be mind-blowing, we are almost paralyzed to start. Rather, teach your child to just enjoy the process of creating and see what comes of it. 

In addition, it’s important to be careful with criticisms and empty praise. When we say, “The grass isn’t supposed to be purple,” we’ve just taken the joy out of the process and placed a value on the outcome - and a negative value at that. Likewise, praise like “Wow, this is the most beautiful drawing I’ve ever seen in my life” has an insidious effect. It’s pretty hard to top such an incredible work of art or to keep up at a masterful level, so the tendency might be to just not even try. Both criticisms and praise decrease the joy of the creative process because we’ve made it about our opinion and not their experience. If you want to say something nice, try, “You worked really hard on that! How do you feel about it?”

Inspire Creative Thinking Through Games

If your child seems stuck in a creativity rut, try sprinkling in one of these games to get their juices flowing in a different way.

  1. Shared storytelling. To begin, snuggle up together and think of a theme or topic. Then, decide who will begin the story. That person will tell the beginning of the story, and leave off for the next person to pick up. Then, you, or the next person in line, will take the story in their own creative direction for several minutes before leaving off for the next to pick up, and so on! This is a wonderful brain exercise to really get those creative juices flowing! 
  2. Musical Art. You’ve played musical chairs, but how about musical art? Play a section of music and ask your child to draw or paint how the music makes her feel. After a minute or two, change the music. It’s interesting to see how different types of music affects their art!
  3. If your child loves video games, try one that improves creativity, like Minecraft, SimCity, or Animal Crossing. A study of nearly 500 12-year-olds found that the more kids played video games, the more creative they were in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories. Linda Jackson, professor of psychology and lead researcher on the project, said the study appears to be the first evidence-based demonstration of a relationship between technology use and creativity.
Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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