The Parents’ Guide to Developing Creative Kids
When you think about what you want your kids to accomplish, what comes to mind?
Many of us would say we want them to do their homework, get to bed on time, and get along with their siblings or friends. It’s hard to think long-term when living with your kids seems to present challenges every day.
But let’s dig a little deeper. What do we truly want for our kids? Beyond being happy and healthy, we also want their lives to matter for something. Deep down, we want them to make a positive contribution to society.
How can we as parents help our kids to be more creative, not just in the short-term, but for the long-term as well?
We live in a complex world with many challenging problems. We will need thinkers in the coming decades who can present creative solutions to the pressing problems of their day. How can we help our kids to be more creative, not just in the short-term, but for the long-term as well?
These five strategies will help set them up for creative success in their lives both now and in the future.
1. Give them support and permission.
Our kids need to know that it’s OK to be creative. There is an immense pressure to conform to the crowd, especially as kids get older. But they need to know we support them and will help them develop their creative gifts, even if it’s not the path we traveled in life.
When I was in high school, I was in marching band, choir, and all of our theater productions. My Dad was at every performance. I know he must have been bored at times, and it certainly wasn’t convenient to drive to some of my music events and competitions. His interests were more geared toward hunting and the outdoors, but I always knew he supported my involvement in the arts.
2. Give them a vision of what their lives could become.
Kids need to see what’s possible. Most people in their lives take the path of least resistance and never operate at their full potential. But what can we do as parents to give them a vision for their lives? How can we help them see what they could become?
One way is to encourage them to explore the lives of great men and women through biographies, movies, and meeting influential people face-to-face. As the primary influencers in our kids’ lives, we must take the lead in helping them.
We can’t just leave it to teachers, church leaders, and others to help our kids live up to their potential. We must be active and engaged in their lives.
3. Give them opportunities to be creative.
This doesn’t mean that our kids need to be involved in every activity. But we should be on the lookout for the best opportunities for them to have new creative experiences that will help them grow. We can’t provide all these by ourselves.
We must be on the lookout for the best opportunities for our kids to have new creative experiences.
What opportunities around you could help your kids grow as creative leaders? Over the last couple of years, my son Ben has had the opportunity to help create and run media at our church youth group. This has helped him grow in confidence and learn some important skills.
4. Give them an example to follow.
Parents, our kids need to see that we’re more than just talk. We need to set an example of growth in our own skills and creative lives. Our actions, not our words, are what leave a lasting impression.
The skill I’m trying to develop now is drawing. Sometimes I draw a comic for my son so he has something fun in his lunchbox. I was shocked recently when he pulled out a stack of papers from his lunchbox. He had kept every one of them. I had no idea my little comics meant so much to him. It made me more committed than ever to continue doing this, so that someday he’ll do something equally as meaningful with his kids.
I had no idea my little comics meant so much to him. It made me more committed than ever to continue doing this, so that someday he’ll do something equally as meaningful with his kids.
5. Give them tools and resources.
There are a lot of things we don’t automatically buy for our son. He doesn’t have the latest video game system, and he doesn’t have the fanciest bike. However, we have invested heavily in books and Legos—two types of items that have helped expand his creative mind. And I do consider these an investment, not an unnecessary expense.
(This isn’t to say that we go crazy with Legos, because they’re not cheap. We always buy them on sale. Most of my son’s Lego sets have been Christmas and birthday gifts from family members.)
We must be intentional about helping our kids explore their creative potential.
Parents, we must be intentional about helping our kids explore their creative potential. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of time or money. The most important thing is that they know we care about their creative development.
No matter what type of learning tools your kids enjoy, it’s important to make room in our budgets if we’re able. This doesn’t always mean spending a lot of money, or maybe even none at all. Recently we made a 3D hologram for smartphones, and it didn’t cost a penny.
Through small steps over time, and by setting a positive example, we can help set up our kids for long-term success.
What are some ways you have helped your kids be more creative?