Ever wonder why the previous generation just knew how to raise kids?
Nowadays everything feels like a challenge despite the endless parenting blogs, forums and community groups you follow.
It just isn’t enough, it doesn’t work and you’re left back at square 1.
It’s not that our parents, or grandparents knew better, they just had fewer options.
Child downtime was part of life, they didn’t have all the activities, extra curricular and training apps we have today. Today, boredom and downtime are synonymous with, “I’m a bad parent and not doing enough to get my kid ahead.”
Inventiveness occurs when kids have time for curiosity and exploration.
With children chatting online until the early hours, playing games with friends half-way around the world, and all their extra curricular activities, free time, and opportunities for growth are non-existent. where would any child find time for that?
What we’re not so sure about is how to get our kids to want the free, screenless time we know will benefit them.
It may sound counter-intuitive but today’s kids (and, frankly, many of us) need coaching to experience and discover the benefits of free time for creativity.
Remember they’re less likely to do what you say, and more likely to follow what you do.
So get your creative hat on and have some (screenless) fun.
Why are children more creative than adults?
The advantage children have over adults is that to them, anything is possible. They don’t yet know what can’t be done.
Young children get praise, and encouragement from their parents and teachers, for the imaginative stories or strange pieces of art to do.
They have heard tales of magic and they see technology doing all sorts of amazing things. As far as they are concerned every problem can be solved, that’s what their hopeful minds see every day.
What kills creativity in adults?
Adults on the other hand, understand failure, they may have been kicked down by it.
We often know what can’t be achieved because we’ve tried already.
We are familiar with restrictive rules, red tape, rejections, failures and humiliations. At some point we have all worked for a difficult boss who was not interested in ideas – just in getting the job done on time.
Of course every invention and innovation has to exist in a world of constraints. But if we start by imagining an ideal solution then work back to overcome or accommodate restrictions, then we will have a better chance of success than if we start with all the obstacles in clear view.
To be creative think like a child; you did it all the time once so now do it again.
How Creativity gets crushed
Has modern society really extinguished the creative spark among our youth?
Many experts say that creativity can’t be lost, but it does need to be nurtured in order to flourish.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
The current focus on testing in schools, ingrains the philosophy of a strict ‘right or wrong’ which is not decided by the individual.
How does the syllabus regulate creativity, and formularise how ‘good’ someone’s expression of self is through their art, music, dance, critical thinking etc.
The idea that there is only one right answer to a question, may be damaging the development of creativity among children. There’s not much room for unexpected, divergent thought.
Everything is preset, everyone therefore is on the same journey, rather than their own.
Experts agree changes can be made in the classroom to cultivate creativity.
Why is Creativity Important for Child Development?
From the time we’re children, we’re taught that creativity is only for some people, or that it’s something you lose as you grow older. It’s considered fanciful, rather than intrinsic to good design, and even business.
To us, it’s the most important part of what we do, and helps us open our minds to discovering new solutions to tough problems.
10 reasons why Creativity is Important
- Creativity engages the mind.
- Creativity enables alternative ways of thinking.
- Creativity connects us to ourselves & others.
- Creativity helps with problem solving & overcoming challenges.
- Creativity allows us to view and solve problems more openly and with innovation.
- Creativity nurtures confidence.
- Creativity builds confidence. When they are confident, young people are less easily influenced by others
- Creativity instills curiosity.
- Creativity supports resilience.
- When engaging with creativity, young people are not passively listening/absorbing, but are exploring, discovering and communicating. It can support young people to be more active and present as members of society.
4 Ways to Encourage your child to be more Creative
Many believe the best way to encourage children’s creativity is simply to get out of the way and let them be creative.
It’s certainly true that children are naturally curious and inquisitive, but they need support to develop their creative minds and potential. It is always a balancing act between how much structure, and how much freedom.
Therefore it is your job to guide them, without telling them what to do, think and feel.
You can do this by setting the right environment and giving them creative opportunities.
Tip #1 Spend time outdoors
It’s not so easy to quantify the benefits of nature for children. Simply put, immersing your child in nature can help them understand the world and their place in it.
They learn that life is ever changing as they experience the seasons pass, changing how things look, feel, smell, taste AND feel.
It’s truly extraordinary, and almost magical for us adults, think about what possibilities it creates in the minds of children.
The simple act of watching how a seed can grow into a tree, which then gives fruit that animals can eat will teach your child about change, growth, patience…the list really does go on.
Nature is ever changing, it provides countless opportunities for discovery, creativity, and problem solving. The natural world inspires children to think, question, make stories, and develop their creative minds.
Children can draw in sand, make designs with twigs, build forts with branches, or simply lie on the ground and look up at the sky.
It makes me wonder why we don’t all spend more time outside.
Tip #2 Ask open questions
Asking questions that provoke imaginative and creative thinking.
This will invite your child to express their ideas and share their visions, while giving the message that their ideas are important.
Have conversations beyond asking them how their day was, this does not encourage creative thinking. The response is likely to be fine, or ok. And that might be where the conversation ends.
Encourage your child’s Creativity with these questions
- “What do you think would happen if….?”
- “What’s the difference between aspaceship and a helicopter?”
- “What are some other ways to do this?”
Tip # 3 Limit screentime
Our new digital world has benefitted us in ways our ancestors wouldn’t be able to dream of. However the cracks are starting to show, and quite heavily for our children’s mental health and growth. Excessive use of screen time has also been shown to harm children’s creativity.
A recent survey, published by daynurseries.co.uk has highlighted the impact technology is having on children, revealing that more children had imaginary friends five years ago than they do today.
I get it, it’s tough to nurture imagination in the digital age.
The screen has become the modern day pacifier
Children get their short term needs met, while we parents get ours too.
Peace AND quiet (and an extra 20 mins to get the dinner ready/finish of a few emails).
Focusing on a screen is a passive way of learning for children. An alternative would be to encourage children to create something new and different. Engaging children in a kinesthetic manner using their entire bodies and their five senses also opens the mind.
Nature is a great way to engage those 5 senses!
Tip # 4 Let your child play
Imaginary friends, pretend play, play fighting – these are all ways children activate the creative parts of their brains and themselves.
Elements of insight, fantasy and emotional expression all go into this type of story-making.
Kids who have jam packed schedules with tutors for every school subject, football, swimming, violin etc. Just don’t have time for play. They become little adults chain to their strict routine with little room to express and discover themselves.
Kids are resilient, and can find ways to develop thir creative abilities through other means besides strict playtime.
How do we teach Creativity at FitRoots?
It’s always been important to us to teach our students Martial Arts in a wholesome way.
Our students don’t just earn their Black Belt in their physical training, but they carry it through all areas of their lives. To us, we wouldn’t be doing rght by our students to only elevate them inside the Dojo.
1. Freestyle Training
Many Martial Arts are taught in a quite rigid manner, this makes it easier to grade students so they can get their Black Belt.
We let students find their own style, one that suits their strengths, body and mind type.
Shadow boxing and sparring encourage creativity
When students shadowbox or spar they are given principles to follow. It is then up to them to create their own style, pattern and story through their training.
2. Setting Boundaries
Contrary to popular belief, creativity can flouish within limits.
You don’t NEED to let your child roam free and express themselves unguided. After all, as their teachers, we have some wisdom/lessons to pass down to them.
I’m not fully sold on the whole radical unschooling thing, but the rigid school curriculum mentality doesn’t make sense to me either.
So, letting our students explore within boundaries helps them explore their creativity all while feeling secure in the fact that they are doing the right thing and are on the right journey.
3. Asking Questions & Listening
Every lesson starts with a discussion about a topic.
Our instructors don’t tell students what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, they listen and let students know their thoughts are heard, valued and taken into consideration.
I’ve seen so many students so scared of looking silly or getting the wrong answer, so they just stay quiet, in the shadows.
This isn’t the answer to confidence and creativity.
How can children learn to create if they are so scared of failure and experimentation?
So, that’s it.
Try these 4 tips to kickstart your child’s Creativity.
Sometimes stepping back to let your child lead will help them flourish
You’ve got the tools to start encouraging creativity in your child, but if you need a helping hand with your child key life skills try a free class with our expert (and really amazing) instructors!
What are you going to do today to encourage creativity in your child?
Comment below, I’d love to hear how you encourage creativity in your child.