Most parents want their children to be obedient, attentive, intelligent and pleasant. They want the best for them and, to achieve this, they work long hours and hours and suffer through the setbacks that present themselves. Many also want to stimulate creativity in children. If only they had a magic wand! On this last subject, how can we stimulate creativity in children? How can we make them produce those magic moments when new ideas come to life out of sheer ingenuity?
There are several different strategies to do this. All of them are logical, consistent and of proven effectiveness. However, their application requires parents or guardians to be active and involved, far from those famous phrases like “will you be quiet?” or “I don’t have time for your stories now”. If you want your children to be creative, even if they are part of an educational system that tends towards homogeneity (Ferrándiz, 2011), you need to make an effort to break the inertia.
Organising time: a challenge to stimulate children’s creativity
English lessons, swimming, maths, football, chess, writing… the range of activities for children is enormous. We can say that they are privileged because they no longer have to live in a big city to find activities that interest them. The threat of a very competitive adult world makes many parents make a financial effort for their children to receive complementary training.
However, this change of direction comes at a price. Children don’t get bored, so they don’t have to invent games or put in the effort to turn a low-stimulation environment into one where they can have fun. Because creativity starts with mischief, games and with control over one’s own time. This is very difficult to achieve when they have no free time.
So the first strategy to encourage their creativity is to give them time and space to make decisions without the pressure of having to respond to external demands. Otherwise, divergent thinking without the achievement of autonomy does not make much sense; creativity is strengthened when it serves to solve real problems.
The difficulty of the challenges
It is true that children can also develop their creativity in specific activities. This phenomenon occurs mainly when there is an intelligent regulation of the challenges. Let us look at two interesting types of challenges:
The first group consists of challenges that the child, with effort, can face by himself. In this situation, adults can help with encouraging phrases, facing a parallel challenge and avoiding the temptation to help them. Children are capable and overcoming challenges will strengthen their confidence.
The second consists of challenges for which the child needs a little help. They may not know how to do an account or understand the meaning of a word, and the library is too far away for them to go alone.
In such cases, the temptation for many parents is to take control. Parents can help children calculate, but they need to solve the problem. They can look up a word in the dictionary, but they must answer questions about the story. They can accompany them, but they must follow the path they have already learned.
Technological and social encounters
Many parents love it when their children publicly present the skills they have just learned. However, in many cases, the child does not want to have their skills tested in an environment where they feel evaluated and insecure. This can make them fail, can make anxiety appear and make them not want to continue.
On the other hand, social environments are also a good place for creativity development. In them, unforeseen natural changes occur to which children have to respond. Therefore, it is important that technology is not within their reach at this and other times. It is about facing reality challenges raised by others, not about playing on a screen.