Albert Einstein once said that “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
Contrary to popular belief, curiosity is not an innate characteristic. Although a child’s eagerness to explore is observed rather early, some researchers argue that if curiosity is not stimulated it dies.
There are many advantages to being curious.
A study conducted at the University of Edinburgh found that curiosity is as important as intelligence in determining academic performance. Curiosity also enhances creativity.
So how do you enhance your child’s creativity?
1 | Make room for creativity.
One of parenting’s greatest paradoxes is that the more toys your child has, the more likely he/she is to seek outside stimulation. Several studies have found that scarcity, rather than abundance, spurs creativity. (There’s evidence here and here).
Practicing minimalism (or voluntary simplicity) with your child is one way in which you can boost his/her independence and creativity.
According to Duane Elgin, “The intention of voluntary simplicity is not to dogmatically live with less. It’s a more demanding intention of living with balance. This is a middle way that moves between the extremes of poverty and indulgence”. Voluntary simplicity is driven by the philosophy that there is more to life than the accumulation of material things.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you attempt minimalism with your child:
- Do not go overboard. The objective is not to make both you and your child miserable.
- Do not take everything away at a go.
- Let your child participate in purging his or her toys. You’ll be surprised how many “forgotten” toys your child has. Start with those first.
- Do not preach water and drink wine. Lead by example.
2 | Let your child get bored
Parental intervention when children are bored is not always beneficial and there is evidence to support that. New evidence suggests that providing unstructured stimulating environments helps foster creativity.
A different study found that while structured activities (sports/music) were highly beneficial for a child’s development, unstructured time enhanced their creative freedom. Children exposed to less structured activities were found to be more independent.
Turning boredom into a learning experience
While it’s not your job to entertain your child, you need to create unstructured stimulating environments if you want to arouse his creativity.
Make time. If your children are involved in too many activities, they’ll be overstretched and will lack the time to “stand and stare, imagine and pursue their own thinking or assimilate their experiences through play or by observing the world around them”. (Dr. Belton)
Encourage your kids to play outdoors. Much evidence suggests that outdoor play (walks, gardening, taking pictures of insects in the park or garden, chasing bubbles, hide and seek, races) is important in your child’s social and cognitive development.
Make a bored jar. Brainstorm with your child and come up with ideas of things he or she can do when bored.
A word of caution: letting your child get bored will be difficult when you begin – it always is – don’t give up.
3 | Teach your child to be a master decision maker.
Autonomy granting is the assumption that although parents are initially responsible for making decisions, they gradually transfer this right to children through parent-controlled processes.
Allowing your child to participate in the decision-making process has multiple benefits. It teaches children to reflect by themselves and increases the likelihood that they will stick to decisions.
What can you do?
Give your child more independence. Make it a habit to ask your child what she thinks or what she would do (or will do) in specific situations.• Brainstorm. Help your child understand that there are always several ways to do the same thing.
4 | Make your child fall in love with books.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me”. There is evidence to suggest that reading helps develop social and cognitive skills.
Children who read are more curious and have greater imagination and a higher level of critical thinking ability. Reading can open up your child’s world. It can allow him/her to travel to unimagined worlds. It can introduce him/her to new things and new places.
Things to keep in mind when choosing your child’s books
- Focus on your child’s interests. If your daughter is into comics, get her more comic books. Choose a book she won’t want to put down rather than a book you won’t want her to put down.
- Keep your child’s age and level of vocabulary in mind.
- Ask about good books from your librarian or go to Amazon and read the reviews before buying your child’s book. As Emile Jadoul – the Belgian author of children’s literature – states, good children’s books should be “thought-provoking, strong and effective.”
5 | Make technology a friend.
Video games in which creative problem solving is a central element such can teach your child about creativity so choose your child’s games wisely.
So where do you go from here?
- Make room for creativity by creating more less-structured environments. No ideas? Check out the post 100 Activities to Foster Your Child’s Creativity and Make Boredom Constructive
- Help your child embrace books by taking him or her to the local library and by beginning a reading culture. Remember that reading for even five minutes every day can do a world of good.
- Encourage your child to practice decision-making at least once every day: what do you think? Which one would you like? How do you think we should do this? What will you do differently next time?
Do you have any ideas that didn’t make it to the list? Let us know in the comments section below