Expanding Your Child's Creativity - Part 1

I vividly remember an experience I had while in year one at school. I was colouring in a picture that included mountains and I coloured my mountains purple. I distinctly remember my teacher (whom I adored) correcting me gently saying “mountains aren’t purple.” Now I was a child who was inwardly motivated and my opinion always trumped anyone else’s. If I liked something, that was what mattered most. So while I shrugged off the teachers comment, and didn’t change my colouring in palette, I still remember the incident. Not every child is as resilient (or as stubborn) as me though.

Young children invent daily, imagine freely; they dress up and embody knights and nurses and lion tamers. They scribble, make up languages and tap out rhythms on fence palings. They invent things at a remarkable rate. Studies show that 98% of five year olds think in "divergent or non-linear ways," a key component of creativity.

The scary coda to this narrative is that by the age of eight to 10, only 32% think divergently. When the same test was applied to 13 to 15-year-olds, only 10% could think in this way. And when the test was used with 200,000 25-year-olds, only 2% could think divergently.

So step one in expanding your child’s creativity is do a self check. Take a piece of paper, serviette, envelope, bark or grab your phone. Without editing, write/draw down everything that comes to mind when you read the word creativity/think about creativity. Just externalise it in a visible way like a brain vomit. Write until there is no more thoughts or story.

Setting all judgement aside, pause to look at what you have jotted down. Now that you have a little clarity to what the critical voices inside are saying or the outside voices have said, maybe its time to rewrite your creativity script and remove auto pilot. Everyone is born with creativity at their core. Your creativity is not dead, it merely slumbers.

Step two is to give yourself permission to awaken. It’s time to open the back door and ask criticism to get in the backseat. Maybe it’s time to find your 1% brave and let your shy, innate creativity take the wheel. We currently have a learner driver in the family, we give her a chance to make lots of mistakes and kangaroo hop the car out of the drive way. When gravel spins we calmly help her get back on track. We don’t expect her to know how to drive.

With your permission slip in hand, your creativity will peek out and begin to meander, and before you know it, there will be whispered interruptions in your life. New thoughts and ideas pop up randomly, playfully. When welcomed to the green room they will grow braver and bolder.  When allowed out to play and interact freely, creativity can bring much joy, fun, success and healing.

Meanwhile, expand your kids innate creative bent by supplying the raw materials for them to create, innovate, experiment and discover without editing or looking for praise. Allow them to create solely for adventures sake. Make your house a no judgement zone (starting with you) and just watch what unfolds. Check out my school holiday art class called Paint me Happy where I help your child / teen explore their creativity in paint.

Unleashed. Before long your creative whispers will be a megaphone and creativity will be your constant chauffeur.

Rochelle Melville

Rochelle Melville is an art therapist and intentional creative. Rochelle works from Pathways to Expression in Bald Hills facilitating individual and group sessions and is available to facilitate workshops in the community.