When I was growing up, pursuing an artistic craft at school was frowned upon. It wasn’t a “serious” choice. It was a “risky” and “frivolous” choice that would lead you to poverty and misery. Well bah humbug to that say we at Kiki and Friends. Without artists and designers, creators and innovators our world would be a seriously dull and static place. No movies, no music, no books, no new technology, no Kiki…. yikes!
I am glad to say that the “softer skills” are now more in demand. Creativity being among them. Because let’s face it, since kids are no longer following just one career path, but juggling a dozen gigs or having to climb a steep learning curve to keep up with technology, I’d say they are going to need to be thinking more out of the box than ever. So how can parents help their children be more creative, to think laterally, be problem-solvers instead of problem-dodgers, and tap into their full artistic and innovative potential? Read on for 3 ways you can start today.
The sugar-coated creativity pill
Now I know you’re realistic enough to not expect me to deliver the solution in the format of an easy to swallow sugar-coated creativity pill to be taken once daily with a healthy helping of visits to art galleries. Nor do you expect me to proffer you some kind of secret inauguration to a divine gateway accessible only to veterans within the industry, or even a leg-up so your child can hop onto the top rungs of the ladder simply because of who you know. Nonetheless, you are expecting some kind of a formula. How to break it down in a nutshell…. Hmmm.
To become a creator, you must first become an observer.
Let’s start with an overview:
- time (this refers to how much time you invest in creating)
- talent (this can be genetic or born from the drive/desire to do something)
- practice, practice, practice
- learning (see below – point 2)
- rest and relaxation (all work and no play makes Kiki a dull cat)
- diversification (eating/seeing/doing the same things lowers your release of dopamine and you become lazy, unmotivated)
- interdisciplinary visions
If your child mixes all of the above with a dash of
- seeing not looking
- finding not searching
- yielding not pushing
- inaction instead of action
- following your natural cycle
they’ll be a perfect “vessel” through which creativity can flow. Some call it being in the zone or in the flow, others say they are visited by a muse. Wherever they are and whoever comes to visit, they need to have their pen, brush or chisel at the ready because when divine inspiration strikes, it doesn’t come looking for couch potatoes!
Creativity is not something you can switch on and off at the tap.
It is said you can be born with a greater propensity for the creative than the logical. I certainly believe this to be true for I have never had the luxury of being blessed with a single logical thought in my life – god only knows how much bother that would have saved me. Instead I tripped and stumbled my way through life leaving a trail of images, books, courses and ideas behind me. My contribution to society.
If every child you grow up to contribute positively to society, society, inspire one or a hundred more people to thrive, be happy or just smile, the world would be a better place all round. Hooray for creators!!
How to encourage creativity in your child
If you would like to encourage your child to be creative or at least give them the foundation to pursue a creative pursuit when they are older…. to keep their options open, then I would recommend the following:
1. Firstly, make life hard for them, i.e. don’t make life easy for them this only encourages inertia. Present them with challenges, i.e. new situations that give them the opportunity to see things differently, to learn. Push them out of their comfort zone, but with a realistic probability they will succeed just like when you teach them to walk. Stretch them to take another step they otherwise wouldn’t have taken on their own. Remember to praise them only when they’ve done something good.
Do the above at a ratio of about 5 to 1. Too much praise will not help them respect you as a person of authority, nor will it drive them to want to try harder next time. After all, as the parent you are their mentor and main drive. Use this position and the power it comes with whilst you can, for once they are at school, especially secondary school, you lose at least half of your power and ability to guide and teach them at the drop of a hat. It just happens. Get over it. Their friends and the media jump in and take over this role.
2. Secondly, I would ask that you expand their horizons. If you are financially able, take them to experience different countries and cultures. Immerse them in places they do not know. This helps to take them outside of themselves. They empathise with others. A great skill no matter what industry or field they eventually work in as an adult. The experience will not be daunting or overwhelming because you as their steadfast parent will be there by their side to anchor them and provide the sense of safety they need—leaving them free to absorb everything like a sponge. They will take this sense of security on with them.
Even if you don’t have the means to take them away, you can expand their minds and horizons through learning and reading. If they don’t like to read, encourage fun documentaries where they can learn about the planet, history and science and mythology, provide audio books or tell them stories. Go on walks. Explore. If you have relatives, get them to tell them stories. Educational stimulus is a must for fuelling creativity.
Learning could also include playing an instrument learning a sport or martial arts, gymnastics, climbing, swimming. so at least at the end of it they will have learned a skill – one which will most likely help them to destress and release tension as an adult – an absolute must for creatives
3. Thirdly, provide them with the means and space to express their creativity: paints, lego pencils, papers—the space has to be completely free. No rules, no set parameters, they can make things as big or small as they want. They can make as much mess as they want.
All this must be done indirectly. The child does not need to know they are being propelled towards a creative path. That is counterproductive. Let it all come out of them with ease.
The more relaxed they are, the more like they are to absorb. Let go to let it in.
In the end, we want there to be more rather than less information, knowledge and experience for the child to draw on when they create. It is the interplay of all the disciplines, skills and knowledge they have learned that produce the final piece of work. If you only have standard school knowledge or not a lot of experience, you won’t be able to produce much of any interest. I must reiterate again, it is not about money: reading and thinking or rather reflection on things you have heard and seen, plus actually trying this out so you make the knowledge and experience your own and not just borrowed from the teacher or whoever shared it with you, all this fill your well of creativity.
Give future generations the chance to be great creators.
Don’t dissuade kids from doing art at school in favour or more “career-oriented” subjects. Without creators and designers we would not have all the wonderful objects, entertainment and technology we have today. Don’t stop your child from amazing the world in the future. Allow them to explore their creative path naturally, push them to try the difficult, don’t make life too easy for them and expand their horizons.
Encourage them to keep a journal so they can write down all their ideas, observations and musing, or they can draw them or have a place where they can stick pictures, tickets and other interesting titbits they find. And don’t forget dear parent, it’s never too late to release the artist in you too!