Let your child play around with ideas and try out far-fetched guesses. Rather than laughing at your child’s wild conjectures about things unfamiliar to her or him, or pinning these ideas down to “right” or “wrong, encourage testing of these conjectures (within safe limits, of course), and imagining what the world would be like if they were true. (Md-Yunus, 237).
Be a good audience for your child’s creative activities. Appreciate and respect the child’s creativity, even if you dislike or disagree with a product. Don’t criticize, disparage, or correct in a way that provokes your child’s guilt or shame over her creative activity. Find at least a small aspect to praise lavishly and matter-of-factly correct or ignore any unacceptable parts. (Meyerhoff).
Make creativity-building comments such as “It’s fun to try it different ways” “Tell me about it” “Let’s try it anyway” “Have you thought of any alternatives?” “I see you are having lots of fun,” showing your faith in your child’s problem-solving abilities and acceptance of her doing it her way. (Murphy).
Encourage story telling. For young children, make up stories that cast your child as the main character. Encourage your child to add ideas to the story, or to come up with a funny ending. Older children can create their own stories. (Kemple and Nissenberg 70).
Don’t discourage fantasy, for example by telling your two to seven-year-old to stop lying when he or she makes up or exaggerates a story. The creative person’s greater flexibility and keenness of insight requires being open to vague feelings and hunches that others may disregard as silly. (Md-Yunus, 237).
Martha Crenshaw is a caring citizen interested in all things creative.
Adapted with permission from Positive Parenting: Creative Opportunity in the Spring 2008 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.
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Kemple, Kristen M. & Nissenberg, Shari A., “Nurturing Creativity in Early Childhood Education: Families Are Part of It,” Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol. 28, No. 1-313, Fall 2001.
Md-Yunus, Sham’ah, “How Parents Can Encourage Creativity in Children,” Childhood Education, June 22, 2007.
Meyerhoff, Michael K., “Nurturing Imagination & Creativity,” www.encyclopedia.com, Pediatrics for Parents, Inc., 1994.
Murphy, Kelly Jo, “The Top 10 Way to Nurture Creativity in Your Children and Yourself,” www.artistshelpchildren.org/articlemuphy.html
Soule, Amanda Blake, Interview from “The Artful Parent,” www.artfulparent.wordpress.com/2008, Feb. 7, 2008.