The Art of Creativity

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How many of us have squelched a child’s creativity without even realizing it?

Many times, when we see our kids approaching something differently than we do, we want to change their way of thinking. But fostering our child’s courage to express their creativity is perhaps one of the most important goals that we can set for ourselves as parents.

According to Dr. Erik Fisher, Emotional Dynamics expert, making sure children get playtime every day is a great way to help enhance their creative skills. Play gives kids a chance to try new things and let their imaginations run free. Whether they make up a new game or participate in an arts and crafts activity, play provides them the freedom to think outside the box, color outside the lines and come up with innovative ideas.

Dr. Fisher shared his insights about the importance of creativity and play, and what parents can do to encourage both.

How do you define creativity?

Often when people think of creativity, they think of the arts. This is a very limiting belief. Creativity is first and foremost an innovative mindset and an approach to solving problems. It often starts with play early in life and leads to other things as we grow. It is in play that children begin to develop their imaginations, whether with blocks, dolls and action figures, or even board games. Beyond play, kids may find creativity in the way they play sports, clean their room, prepare their food or do their schoolwork.

What can parents do to encourage their kids to be creative?

The best way to foster your child’s creativity is to encourage them to try things and not feel afraid to fail. Failure itself is an amazing learning experience as it helps a child develop important skills they’ll need later in life. It’s not a bad thing to color outside the lines! At the same time, be aware of your own emotions, attitudes and beliefs and be willing to create with your child. So many times, parents so badly want their kids to “fit in,” to get along or not make waves that they don’t realize they are stifling their creativity.

  • What are some of your tips for creative play? Don’t focus on just the arts. Play has a key role in helping develop children’s creative muscles.
  • Observe and appreciate your child’s uniqueness and celebrate how they do things differently.
  • As we develop our creativity in one area, it often extends to other areas. Letting your child try many different types of play and toys can help stretch their creativity muscles and yours.
  • There’s no better way to dry up creativity than with criticism. Try to find constructive ways to give feedback and seek ways to be positive.
  • Help your child see failure through play as a learning experience, not a time to quit.

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Anna Yudina is the Director of Marketing Initiatives for The Toy Association™, a not-for-profit trade association that represents toy companies. Currently, she’s spearheading The Genius of Play™, a parent-focused movement raising awareness of play as a crucial part of child development and encouraging families to make time for play daily. Parents can visit www.thegeniusofplay.org for easily accessible play ideas and tips, expert advice and other play resources.

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