Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.
As a graphic designer, I have always been an innovator. Working in this field taught me much more than designing logos and websites.
I would love to do the same for my kids so I tried to write down how to raise creative children.
Why creativity made me a better person
Creativity taught me that the process is sometimes more important than the results.
While I was studying I was trying to hurry to learn everything to get my first clients. To charge my first projects.
During my first year of studies, I realized that I will never stop learning. I will always have a new goal and new challenges. Only then I started to blend into my work. I trusted in the process. I became more patient and grateful.
The process of gaining new software and practical skills was priceless. I learned what I really love about my work. I learned that money will not fulfill my basic needs.
Once I changed my thinking, I started to create amazing work. I focused on creating educational materials for children and my thesis was all about explaining difficult topics like death, love and time to the smallest kids.
When I completed my thesis, I felt something, that I never felt before. I went to sleep that night and I felt complete. I felt that I achieved something. It was the best work that I created. But the result didn’t matter. It was all the process I put into it that made it so special.
As a creative person, I learned to be persistent and keep moving no matter what
During my studies, I didn’t have the luxury to party like other students. I worked at the bar to pay for my university fees. It was hard but I was always grateful for the chance to study design.
There were days that passion was not enough for me. I was simply tired. Going to the university during the day and working at night in the bar was exhausting.
But whenever I went to bed, my head was spinning with ideas about how to keep getting better and creating. I knew that I have to pass all the painting and life drawing lessons even if I didn’t know how to draw basic shapes. Creativity taught me to be determined to achieve my goals.
I was always a poor student. Never had access to a Mac at home and I started my studies with a tiny, slow laptop standing at the book shelve.
I still had to complete my projects, despite the lack of painting materials and fancy sketchbooks. But this was not really where I learned my problem-solving skill.
When I started to work on branding for my clients, the whole new world opened to me. I started to see people with big dreams and ideas. Very often bad ideas. So I needed to find solutions, how to make it work. How to build a product or service that will fulfill a new gap in the market.
I learned to solve problems with simple strategy sessions and brainstorming with my clients. I found ways for families to combine their work and family life. This again was very fulfilling and gave me a good sleep at night.
Patience like no parent has
I thought that parenting is the only time when I will need to learn to be patient. Surprisingly, gaining new skills in the creative craft was as hard.
When I decided to start drawing I was shocked how slow the process was. I was not good at all. But I had to keep drawing every day and keep exposing my work. To take the criticism. I learned to be patient to see the results of my new skills.
I became more positive
Creating gives you the simple feeling of happiness. When you can see your work pleasing others, your educational materials being used by children, you can enjoy the outcome.
After having two children, I suffered from postpartum depression. My husband was very supportive and motivated me to keep working. This was the only thing that kept me going. Creating allowed me to forget all the crying and sadness.
Through my creativity I discovered myself
Being creative is like writing a journal. It is just you and the medium. In some ways, you will discover your own personality, whether you are an extrovert or introvert.
I discovered that I need positive imagery and colors. Through feedback, I learned that I am kind, positive and very ambitious.
My strange childhood impacted my work a lot and it helped me go to my past and make peace with it.
While I was growing up, education was just useless. I discovered that I really want to make a difference for my children. I want them to be creative and to learn from discovery and being independent.
How to raise creative children
Let them explore the real world
The first rule that worked for our toddlers was to follow Montessori principles and to exclude the fantasy at this age. I wanted them to first learn and understand the real world around them.
It would be very easy for me to let them play with colorful books and Disney characters. But they could not grasp the idea and had a skewed perception about things around them.
Instead, I took them to the forest almost everyday. We cleaned the house together and we spent a lot of time in the kitchen. It required a lot of effort and it was driving me crazy, when toddlers were trying to touch the stove.
However, once they were motivated to learn from everyday life, their creativity flourished on its own. My children love to use sponges all over the house. They clean their toys out of pure pleasure. They came up on their own with activities to paint their toys first and then wash it up. Igor loves to look at the bugs for long minutes outside.
Give them quality
The most significant change for my children was when I let them stay in the nursery twice a week. Spending less time with them allowed me to prepare the activities together and be fully relaxed when we are together.
I had the time to drop my emails and Facebook. My kids were not always interested in playing on their own. But once I was more patient and relaxed, I was able to observe what they like and prepare a beautiful space for them. I rotated their toys and made sure the house is not cluttered to spark creativity.
We stopped buying plastic toys and bought much less. Having two-three activities to explore made it easier for my kids. I also left only the things that I am OK to let kids play with. Meaning, they had access to the whole house and all household items.
Allow kids in the kitchen
Is there a better place at home than kitchen to spark creativity? We all know it yet the first thing we put a gate on at home is stairs and the kitchen.
I took me a while to make peace with it but I can already see the result. Preparing child size and child safe cutlery was very helpful. I taught Igor and Mia that spices all over the floor are not that fun when we walk on it and then get it everywhere. Including our beds and clothes.
It was not easy but they even started to be more creative with what they eat. Allowing little mess is the sacrifice I make to let my kids be more creative every day.
Even though it is nerve-wracking and I often choke when I see kids playing with some toys, I let them explore. They will not understand that the egg will break unless they can throw it.
The best way to understand that paint on the face will be itchy and well very colorful is to let them paint.
When they fall off the bike or fight between each other, I try not to run with plaster and give them a chance to solve it on their own.
Treat them like an adult
Although a child holding a knife can be very scary, a child holding a blunt knife putting a spread on the bread on his own is very pleasing.
Making the sensory experiments of the real world is the best practice of creativity. I often take my son to the supermarket and let him walk beside me to pick vegetables for his dinner.
Serious art exhibitions were surprisingly interesting for my kids. I was shocked by their reactions and what they remembered from it. They are never too small for art and culture.
By placing their small artworks in a frame you can show your kids that you take their process very seriously and that you are proud of it.
Although it turns out very funny sometimes, I allow my toddler to disagree with me. When he shows a cat in the book and insists it is a dog I try to start a conversation why he thinks this way. He didn’t only boost his creativity like that but also mine!
Forget the punishment and reward system
Kids should learn to be free and explore because of their own need to do so. Pure creativity is born when they have the freedom to learn it on their own. Natural consequences will help them understand the real world.
“It has been said that rewards and punishments override a child’s natural inclination to do the right thing because they rely on extrinsic (external things that are used to motivate us) rather than intrinsic (a motivator that is internal and usually a feeling of well-being that comes over us when we choose to do something) motivators.” You can read more about it here.
I always treat children like adults and as I would like to be treated myself. When we let children feel good about their discipline and choices they will naturally enjoy it and not be afraid to ask questions or explore.
Creativity is a great skill that taught me that the process is sometimes more important than the results. As a creative person, I learned to be persistent and keep moving no matter what. I gained problem-solving skills and patience like no parent has. Most importantly through my creativity, I discovered myself and learned how to be happier.
Although I cannot promise that those few tips will work on my children, I believe that creative thinking will be good for their development. How to raise creative children? You can try through:
- Letting them explore the world and give them the freedom to do so.
- Treating them with respect, as another adult.
- Cooking with them and sharing daily responsibility so that they can feel that I trust them.
Free resources for creative activities: