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How to Spark Creativity in Kids: Attitudes and Activities

One of the biggest struggles parents face in a digital world is how to help their kids develop creativity. When faced with the prospect of creating something new versus simply putting on Netflix, the temptation to press play is a real one. However, research shows that kids who develop their creative impulses are more likely to be successful as adults. Not only that, fostering opportunities for creativity (i.e. drawing, dancing, playing music, building with LEGOs) can also lead to more positive feelings that lead, in turn, to more creative outputs.

In this piece, we will explore a number of fundamental attitudes and several fun ideas you can implement to help craft a more creative environment at home. Some of these activities will hit differently depending on the age of your kids, but are sure to set you on the path towards developing a culture of creativity in your home.

Fundamental Attitudes

Let it happen. It can be stressful to give up control. Unfortunately for us control freaks, creativity can be messy/random/out-of-the-box. The best attitude to employ as a parent is to ‘let it happen’. You may want your child to love painting, but they may connect more through dancing. Instead of forcing the issue, give your child many creative opportunities and sit back and watch what brings them joy. Then celebrate.

Learn from improv. The basic premise of good improv comedy is the concept of ‘Yes, and…’. Instead of stifling creative momentum (which the word ‘but’ and ‘no’ often do), ‘Yes, and’ can actually carry forward creativity. You might be surprised what creative ideas present themselves when you employ a ‘Yes, and’ approach to creative thinking with your kids.

Boredom is a blessing (often in disguise). The pressure to constantly provide activities for our kids can be intense and often overwhelming. Steve Jobs once said, “I’m a big believer in boredom. Boredom allows one to indulge in curiosity, and out of curiosity comes everything.” When you provide space in your kids’ lives for boredom, you are (potentially) also providing space for creativity and innovation. Embrace it.

Fun Ideas for Cultivating Creativity 

LEGO challenge. If your kid has bits and pieces of old LEGO sets lying around, creating a LEGO challenge is a great way to foster their creativity. While many online resources exist, it can be as simple as writing a list of prompts and seeing what they come up with. Added bonus: fun.

Visio Divina. Visio Divina, or ‘divine seeing,’ is a meditative practice that uses imagery to connect to something transcendent. It’s seen in a variety of wisdom traditions (think of the architecture of Islam, the mandalas of Hinduism and Buddhism, the stained glass of Cathedrals, etc.), though the formal Latin name—Visio Divina—comes from the Christian tradition. For kids, this practice could look like taking a walk and, using a phone camera, letting them take pictures of things they see that are beautiful or spark their curiosity. Then, when you get home, look through the pictures and talk about what they saw, particularly any feelings of calm or gratitude the imagery stirred up. This is an excellent way to inspire both creativity and connection to the beauty all around us.

Pizza competition. This is a fun activity to inspire creativity in the kitchen. Take your kids to the store, and invite them to choose toppings for a pizza. It could be a sweet dessert, a meaty pie, a veggie adventure, or anything in between. Encourage them to try a topping they have never seen on a pizza. Buy or make the crust, then watch as they put their artistic touches to their pies (a little supervision or direction may be necessary for littles), while you also make yours. Have each family member try a slice of each pizza and see which one tastes best. You might find a new favorite combination in the process!

Drawing games. There are many ways to use pencil and paper to help the creative juices flow. Two favorites are the scribble game and the Exquisite Corpse. These pressure-free drawing games help kids let go of perfection and open their minds to myriad possibilities for creative thinking and design. Jarrett Krosoczka has put together four such drawing games that are worth a shot.

Cultivating creativity is important for healthy development in kids. It helps them see the world in new ways, and encourages them to apply creative thinking to real-life problems as they grow. 

Providing spaces for creative play and contemplation will help your kids (and yourself) develop curiosity and a deeper connection to their inner compass as they unplug from their screens and learn to create something new.

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