As parents we have the power to help our children soar in their gifts and talents, as well as the power to squelch and even crush their dreams and aspirations. Of course, you and I desire to be a part of the first group (I know this about you without even knowing you because you’re right here reading this post.)
All kids and teens are creative in one way or another. And if you will look closely, delving beneath the surface, you will discover certain innate abilities, gifts and talents in them. Our job as parents is to find ways to nurture these gifts and creativity so they can grow, flourish, and ultimately fulfill their purpose in life.
So I’ve compiled a list of simple ideas on how we as parents can help. It is in no way exhaustive, but rather is meant to be a springboard from which you to jump.
10 Ways to Nurture Creativity in Your Kids and Teens
1. Be aware of their individual giftings and bents. Think about things that give them great joy, things they truly love to do, areas they excel in. Those gifts are unique to each child/teen and will most likely play an active role in God’s purpose for their life. Are they musical? Do they love to weave stories from their imaginations? Do they love to draw, paint or create with their own hands? Provide plenty of opportunities for them to enjoy and practice their gifts.
2. Provide a creative atmosphere in your home along with many opportunities to be creative. Read excellent literature and poetry together. Play classical music throughout your home. Find ways to expose them to the great art masterpieces on a regular basis whether it’s via coffee table books, wall calendars, posters or prints. Teach them various creative skills, such as cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, crocheting, woodworking, and more.
3. Provide them with creative opportunities outside the home. If they love to paint or draw, then find someone local to give them quality art lessons. Do they love to sing or desire to play an instrument? Then invest in voice or music lessons for them. What about dance lessons? Or drama lessons? Let them explore their creative potential in various ways.
4. Expose them to the beauty all around them through nature. What is more beautiful or creative than “Creation” itself? Encourage your kids and teens to spend time outside in nature to get their creative juices flowing. Take them on nature walks through the country, hikes in the mountains, to the local botanical gardens, visit a nature preserve, or an aquarium, and don’t forget the planetarium.
5. Expose them to the beauty of people through the humanities and cultural arts. Explore art or history museums, attend a symphony, take in Shakespearean plays, Broadway musicals, or ballets, visit historical landmarks. Open their eyes to different cultures all over the world. Which ethnic groups are around you? Visit their restaurants and shop in their markets. If at all possible, allow your teens to go on a missions trip. At the very least, make sure to add DVDs or streaming video subscriptions that bring other cultures and histories into your home.
6. Share some of your favorite things with them. Is there a particular classical music piece that you love? Play it in the car for them while running errands. What are some of your favorite works of literature or poetry? Share them with your kids/teens, explaining why you love them so much. Who’s your favorite artist? What are your favorite plays? By letting them in on your favorite things, you’re giving them a connection to them as well.
7. Allow them to express themselves in the way they dress (yes, even their hair). Giving them the freedom of self-expression through their clothing, jewelry and hairstyle is another way you can nurture their creativity. You may or may not like their choices or styles, but this is an important part of finding who they are and showing/telling the world that they’re unique and creative.
8. Allow them freedom to decorate their room in the way they desire. Whether they share a room with a sibling and only have a small space to call their own, or whether they have their own room, give them artistic license to express their creativity in their space. If you don’t like it, you can always close the door. 😉
9. Give them a safe and accepting environment. Your kids/teens should have the freedom to explore their creativity without fear of rejection or ridicule. They should understand that they can make mistakes, flops, and even bad choices, but they’ll always have a safe landing place with you. Offer them advice, encouragement, and only constructive criticism. But most of all, let them know how valuable and important they (and their art) are to you.
10. Praise their efforts and accomplishments, as well as the risks they take – even when they don’t turn out so great. Don’t forget to praise them and their efforts on a regular basis. Kids and teens need verbal affirmation from their parents more than anyone else. Show off their work to friends and family. Let them know that you’re their biggest supporter and #1 fan.
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Alisha Gratehouse is an artist, art instructor, minister’s wife, and homeschooling mom of three. Her days are filled with creating, painting, writing, drinking lots of tea, laughing with (and at) her family, and spontaneously bursting forth into song. Alisha is the author of several books including, A Life That Flourishes.