The opportunity to engage in creative pursuits allows our children to openly express their feelings and build problem-solving skills. Plus, getting a glimpse at their creative expressions allows us busy mamas to glean a little insight into our tots’ inner workings.
Of course, when we are faced with the daily grind of cleaning, cooking, working and everything in between, it can be easy to let time for creative expression slip through our fingers. (There are only so many hours in a day, after all!)
For a few stress-free ways to promote creativitya nd imagination in your tot, look no further!
As a developmental psychologist,I promise, the precious time lost will be worth it—and you may even score a few minutes to cook dinner in peace if your babe is engrossed in her latest masterpiece.
Here’s where to get started—
1. Mix media.
Provide your tot with possibilities to explore a variety of creative outlets and media.
From crayons to Play-Doh, Magic Sand to sidewalk chalk, different artistic media allow for different forms of creative expression.
Is your tot a budding chef or is a life in architectural engineering more up her alley? Only time will tell…but your tot will appreciate having the opportunity to choose the creative activities she loves. (And you might get a sneak peek into her future passions by learning about what forms of art she craves now.)
2. Inspiration made easy.
If your child is anything like mine, he probably isn’t too persnickety about his creative surroundings. A far cry from Matisse, children don’t need a Mediterranean backdrop in the south of France for a bit of inspiration.
Heck, my son is happy to sit in a cardboard box and scribble with markers. (Bonus: The box sets a “boundary” for keeping markers off the walls!)
If you are feeling creative yourself, you could also consider devising a few simple “imagination stations” in baby’s play room or nursery. From a play kitchen to a reading nook, or a drawing easel to a block-building corner, the possibilities are limitless. Switch them up from time to time to keep your tot intrigued.
3. Destination: Imagination.
To truly open up your child to new experiences of creativity, it helps to first broaden your definition of creativity. Any form of imaginative or symbolic play will promote your child’s inner creativity.
Invite your tot’s stuffed animals to teatime or make Play-Doh macarons. Build intricate train tracks or push your little racecar driver around in her—now brightly colored—cardboard box.
4. Make a mess…smartly.
Let your child explore a variety of textures with his hands (or even feet!). Yes, this means potentially messy media.
To save you oodles of time cleaning later, try painting with shaving cream in the bathtub, making mud pies outside (preferably near a water hose), or getting wiggly with Jell-O in the high chair. Better yet, make a fresh batch of “CleanMud” with this super-easy recipe!
5. Commit time to craftiness.
Set aside time once or twice a week for letting your child get crafty with it. All the better if you have a few minutes to have some fun yourself. Art therapy can be a fabulous stress-reliever!
Just remember to give your tot plenty of time to finish his craft. According to the Reggio-Emilia learning philosophy, children need ample time to engage in creative interests.
If you are worried about craft time eating into dinner time, set up your child’s activity within sight of the kitchen so you can both work on your own creative pursuits…yes, we consider defrosting a pizza to be creative.We’ve got your back, mama!
7. Make it up as you go.
The next time you are bopping around town with your tot, make up a few ad-lib stories on the fly. Take note of something humdrum and turn it into a fantastical story.
“You see that dog over there? I was in a café the other day and that dog walked up to me and said hello! You won’t believe what happened next…”
Once your child is verbal, include him in the story-telling process. Besides calming even the most restless of kiddos, this fun activity promotes visualization, language development, and creation.
Not every day with baby has to make Picasso jealous. Life often rushes by us with little regard for leisurely pastimes. Don’t beat yourself up about it. We can’t all be Pinterest pros.
The most important thing to remember about promoting a love of creativity and art is to foster self-confidence in your little one. That means no matter how tempting it might be, try your best to applaud your child’s art, rather than “fix” it.
Whether the colors are outside the lines or the macaroni noodles are glued on crooked, let your child know that you value her artistic perspective and creative eye by respecting her work as her own.