Encouraging Creativity in Your Young Child

Imagine at BC

“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” – D.W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality by Winnicott, D. W.

By encouraging creativity in your child, you can help them grow and flourish in so many ways.  Creative development can help lots of aspects of development mature including mentally, emotionally, and socially. As a child grows, society’s constricting rules, pressures, and do’s and don’ts will constrict their imagination. By giving your baby or child creative freedom you will be helping them develop social skills, decision making skills, confidence, and independence.

Creativity is more skill than inborn talent, and it is a skill parents can help their children develop. As it is a key to success in nearly everything we do, creativity is a key component of health and happiness and a core skill to practice with children. Creativity is not limited to artistic and musical expression—it is also essential for science, maths, and even social and emotional intelligence. Creative people are more flexible and better problem solvers, which makes them more able to adapt to technological advances and deal with change—as well as take advantage of new opportunities.

Creativity can be developed through the various ways parents interact with and respond to very young babies. These may be seen in the diverse ways a caregiver might calm, soothe, comfort, engage, amuse, delight, enthral, or even confuse or confound their child. Playing creatively with babies — even newborns — fosters many aspects of development. The physical skills it promotes becomes one of the primary ways that babies learn about their world, thereby allowing them mental development and new ways of thinking, engaging, discovering, and problem solving. This growth may come from actual toys such as blocks, rings, or cups, but it may also come from cushions with bright colours or textures to explore – even objects that make interesting sounds will ignite a child’s curiosity.

Singing, cuddling, and interacting are important ways to participate in play, but it is equally important to encourage independent play time as well.

Very young children learn about the world through their senses. In order to foster creativity and creative thinking right from the start, draw on this natural proclivity. Stimulating multiple senses, as babies develop the stamina, is a great way to foster imaginative thinking. A vast majority of your interactions should be hands-on activities where you and your baby interact face-to-face.

Toddlers are ready for more when it comes to creative opportunities. Allow your child an expressive outlet for her thoughts, feelings, wishes, and imaginings. Challenge her new representational abilities by using her body in space: have her hop like a bunny, roar like a lion, etc. Get more abstract and see if he can become a kite blowing in the wind, or a balloon blown too full that pops.

Challenge your child’s play to go beyond the familiar routine she may have developed. For example, fly your car to the moon. Look at everyday moments as opportunities to enhance creative thinking. Ask your child why she thinks the dog is chasing the squirrel, or where the bird that flew out of sight is off to or make up her own ending to a story. Bring literature to life, for instance act her favourite book such as We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.

Dressing Up

Encourage your toddler to be creative with art inspired activities (finger painting, scribbles and messy play) or engage in lots of musical activities: singing, dancing, making musical instruments.  As they grow older encourage imagination games with role play and dressing up.  Try to make all these activities child-led instead of parent-led – you are trying to foster their creativity.

A very valuable lesson for parents is to learn to give their children the time and space for play and to allow them to fail. Children who are afraid of failure and judgment will curb their own creative thought.

“Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”-Pablo Picasso



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