Building Kids’ Confidence Through Creativity
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (sign up for monthly parenting newsletter and receive 20+ printable charts for kids and parents)
(listen to article read by the author)
What creative activities do your kids like? When they have unscheduled time and aren’t on their digital devices or watching TV, what do they like to do?
Are they the artistic type who likes to draw, paint or make sculptures out blocks or rocks? Do they enjoy making up new dance moves or their own music? Are they drawn to acting out make believe stories or creating plays with other kids? Do they love being outside designing obstacle courses or challenging jumps for trying out on their skateboards? Do they like baking or cooking?
Part of growing up is figuring out what you like to do and what you’re good at. When your kids find a passion and devote time to it, they build their confidence with their accomplishments. Trying out various creative activities will help them discover their gifts and talents.
Making Space For Creativity
Creativity can’t be rushed. Have you ever noticed that you’ll figure out a problem or have a new idea when you are relaxing and not even thinking about it? Perhaps your best ideas come to you first thing in the morning or while you are showering.
Your kids also need down time in order to tap into their creativity. This means time without being entertained by digital devices or other activities. Hanging out and even being bored are prerequisites for creativity!
In her article “Take A Breather: Happiness research shows the biggest obstacle to creativity is being too busy”
, Emma Seppälä writes “Simply put, creativity happens when your mind is unfocused, daydreaming or idle.”
So there is a benefit to not being busy every minute of the day! Some kids are so accustom to being constantly entertained that they quickly complain about being bored whenever there isn’t an activity or they are not on their digital devices. If this sounds familiar, have your kids write down non-tech activities
that they like doing on slips of paper. Put these slips of paper into a container. When they are bored, have them pick two slips of paper out and choose one of those activities.
Engaging In The Creative Process
Before you can create something you need an inspiration for what it is you want to create. The creative process begins with an idea to make something that currently does not exist. If your children do not know what they want to create, then it’s time for some daydreaming and imagining new possibilities.
Once your kids have their idea, they are ready to begin! Creating something is a process that involves three steps:
- Setting an intention on what you want to create
- Figuring out what needs to happen to bring about your intention
- Taking action to bring your intention into reality
The creative process is rarely smooth. Your children will likely have to deal with unanticipated problems and things not working out as well as they had imagined. This is not failure rather it is creativity’s iterative nature. Your kids will be learning how to make adjustments when things do not go as planned.
Creativity works best when kids feel they can start over, they are not rushed and there’s no grading or judging. Being creative should feel expansive, not restrictive.
When your kids finally achieve their intention, they can be proud! Their accomplishments will naturally leave them feeling more confident and capable.
Discovering Passions Through Creativity
Going through the creative process helps your children listen to their inner voice. They’ll be discovering what they like to do and where their talents lie. They’ll start getting ideas about how they can contribute to creating a better world.
It may even lead them to starting a business like teenager Maya Penn did. In her book
You Got This!: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World
Penn writes "I loved drawing and doodling and watching cartoons. In fact, I was almost always doing something creative. That creative drive
soon led me to try my hand at clothing design: I began making headbands from scraps of discarded fabric I found around the house. When I
started wearing those headbands out in public - and getting lots of compliments on my designs - it occurred to me that I might be able to
sell those creations. With no business plan and no experience running, well, anything, I became a professional fashion designer - and
, my eco-friendly clothing company, was born.”
Spending time in creative pursuits like Penn did helps kids express themselves. Before your kids can be happy, they need to know what makes them feel alive and engaged.
Too many teenagers report feeling like they're living someone else's life. They’ve spent their time following other people’s directions. They feel lost and uninspired.
Giving your kids opportunities to be creative helps them spend time listening to themselves. Ideally your kids will build their lives around their passions. When your kids know what makes their hearts’ sing, they are on their way to creating the life of their dreams.