There is nothing quite like the brain of a child. They are curious, mischevious, and wildly creative and imaginative. Why don’t we retain these beautiful attributes as we navigate adulthood?
Well, the frontal cortex in our brain evolves as we age. As we enter young adulthood (think early 20s), this section of our brain is responsible for us becoming more “rational” beings with better decision-making skills. On the flip side? We don’t think outside the box as often anymore. Additionally, we can feel defeated by mistakes, rather than consdering them a part of our creative process.
I don’t know about you, but I think this is a real bummer. It’s also why I believe we need to harness, encourage, and savor our children’s creative nature as much as possible.
Have you ever gifted your child a big or expensive toy and they wound up more interested in the box it came in? Well---throw in some (safe) scissors, markers, glue, and embellishments, and they will turn it into a freaking rocket ship or puppet theater. It’s amazing when you think about it. When is the last time in your adult life that you’ve thought about something like that? I get about 50 Amazon packages in a month and I have never once looked at one of them and thought “I shall make myself a robot with that nifty box!” But our children do this nearly EVERY DAY. Seriously---let the fun, innocence and wonder of that marinate a little bit.
PLEASE, encourage this creativity at every opportunity.
Ask your child what they see in the clouds. Start thinking about what YOU see in the clouds.
Point out how eclectic and unique nature is --- how many different types of bugs, lizards, furry creatures, plants, and colors there are around us. Ask them their opinion on these things…. “Hey, why do you think these frogs have sticky feet?” (I can only imagine some of the answers.)
Do you have a child who likes to paint? Create an area of the house that they CAN get messy. Throw a tarp down, pitch an easel, and give them their first set of high-quality paint and brushes.
Do they love mythical creatures? Give them some clay and ask them to make you a mermaid or a dragon. Ask them to create their own creature…..then name them and assign attributes to them.
Create an "art studio" for your child. They will feel so empowered by this when you tell them that it's all theirs!
We can be creative in the most mundane ways possible, too. Nearly every morning, my son says wants to play the “Color Game,” something I started with him years ago just to keep him occupied so I could spend more time in bed in the mornings. What I learned from this is that his answers are interesting, funny, smart, and surprising. What is the Color Game, you ask? Wait for it…….I simply name a color and he names all the things he can think of that are that color. Then we switch. That’s it! He loves it and it gets his brain going. You can do the same thing with “how many words start with this sound?”
Encourage them to partake in hands-on play more than they look at a screen. Hands-on activities are how children learn to comprehend how things work.
Sit on the floor with your child and pull out some old-school favorites, like Legos or even Lincoln Logs. Another great option is "Tinker Toys."
As they get older, let them help design their own room. Let them decorate their backpacks. Let them experiment with weird-ass outfits and hairdos (within reason, of course.)
JUST LET THEM BE CREATIVE -- they are only young once.
“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.”
-- Pablo Picasso.