Creativity and Children - how hard can it be?

29th January 2014

A few weeks ago, I walked into the kitchen to find my eldest son drawing on the kitchen top naked. I never established why he'd decided to take his clothes off and perch on the kitchen units to colour but he was engrossed and I left him to it, glad it was a pad of paper rather than a computer game that was holding his attention.

When I mentioned this to a friend he penned the below poem which captured the moment much better than I could have done.

When creative juices flow
You can always count on Jo
To resort to what's to hand,
Kitchen sink or Legoland.
If it's warm he's in the buff
Doing his artistic stuff,
Followed closely by the rest,
Off with pants, shirts, socks and vest.
Inhibitions have no chance
Where the Culture Vultures dance.


There's no shortage of articles and comment about how to inspire your child's creative side, be it creative play, creative writing, drawing or just exploring ideas in their head. It's not always easy and I often get it wrong, so here are a few dos and don'ts based on our successes and failures:

Do create the right environment and then step away. Be it building a den or ensuring there's always enough felt tip pens and paper in the house, you can only provide the tools for children to get creative.

Don't ruin the moment by intervening or stressing about the mess. You might think that your modification to the pillow fort would make it much more stable, but they'll have much more fun on their own. Learn to turn a blind eye to the mess. No one ever got a ‘Best Parent' award for having a tidy house.

Do recognise that there's plenty of creative value from some computer games. I'm the first to wring my hands at the amount of time my seven and six year old would like to spend playing computer games and limit it to twenty minutes a day each. But I've also been surprised at how much they enjoy games where you have to use skill and ingenuity to progress through various stages. Try out Snail Bob on A snail needs help navigating different puzzles and traps to build his house. The music is mellow too which makes a big difference to stress levels.

Don't try to fix your child's boredom immediately. Some of our children's most successful periods of independent play have followed hours of excessive boredom.

Don't tell your child to go to sleep when they're on a roll. It may be in the car, on a walk or last thing at night but the urge to talk doesn't always come at a convenient time for you. My eldest is often at his most loquacious last thing at night when his younger siblings have gone to sleep. Despite how late it may be and my desire for him to sleep I also realise that this is an important time when he's full of questions and relishes my undivided attention.

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