Creativity is not about a fabulous end product. Rather, it's about the process of discovery and having the freedom to explore different possibilities in an environment that is free of judgment. Unfortunately, with our preconceived notions of how things should be, adults can sometimes quash creativity before it has a chance to really blossom. Check out the creativity busters below, and see if there's room for more creativity in your household – then dive into a project with your kids and show them that you can be creative too!
- Coloring books may evoke fond childhood memories for parents, but they limit children's creativity with the unspoken expectation to color within the lines. Instead, offer blank sheets of paper with crayons or colored pencils.
- Guessing what a child has drawn can backfire. You may comment on the fearsome gorilla, only to find that the child intended to portray his kindly grandfather. A better way to discuss a child's artwork is to ask the child to tell you about the picture.
- Pretty clothes are fine for special occasions, but a child who is always dressed to a "T" will quickly learn to limit involvement in messy art projects. Provide your child with several sets of play clothes that can be worn without a care for their condition.
- Showing young artists an example of what the finished product should look like can lead to frustration as they try in vain to replicate your ideal. Skip the models and instead allow children the opportunity to experiment with different materials to come up with a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
- Judgmental comments about your child's creation ("that's beautiful!") are transparent, even to kids. Instead, make a concrete comment about what you see, and engage your child in a conversation about the artwork: "That's a really bold stroke of yellow. How did you make it?"
- If you are constantly cleaning up behind your child, the message will become clear: messes are bad. Relax!