HOW TO: Encourage creativity (in you and your child)
Once upon a time, a healthy, happy child became a balanced, well-socialised adolescent, who then turned into a successful adult human. And we all lived happily ever after.
That’s the fairytale all parents are after — but how does this trajectory actually take place?
We had a chat with Nicky Lobo; a qualified vinyasa yoga teacher, and design and architecture writer who works and plays in creative communications strategy, writing, editing and events.
Nicky deeply understands the intimate connection between yoga and life and is wildly passionate about the concept of creativity in humans. She gave us her valuable insights about how to encourage creativity both in you and in you child(ren).
Like Nicky, GOYOkids believes creativity is a key component of health and happiness, but aren’t children either born creative...or not?
Here’s what Nicky had to say on the bond between kids and creativity, as well as her four top tips to feed your own creativity (which doesn’t include enrolling yourself in a life drawing class!):
Is creativity important in childhood?
A growing body of evidence is identifying creativity as a key component for a successful transition into happy adulthood.
Creativity encourages children to think on their feet rather than relying on spoon-fed information. Nurtured, this inspires independence in adolescents — a beneficial quality during a time when peer pressure is a constant concern.
All the way into adulthood, creativity helps people deal with change, become entrepreneurs and stand out from the crowd – all positive features in a world that is increasingly overcrowded.
So how can creativity be stimulated? And isn’t a child either born creative or… not?
All children are naturally creative to some degree — their curiosity and lateral thinking are testament to that. Every parent knows that children have an uncanny and inventive knack for explaining the ways of life and answering the tough questions, often with hilarious anecdotal results.
But unless this creativity is nurtured, it can diminish, as they become units within educational and social structures built on rules, regularity and rote learning.
The traditional ways of stimulating creativity — storytelling, making art, physical movement such as dance and drama — are as valid as ever. But another option is gaining popularity for its winning combination of physical, mental and creative aspects.
Yoga for kids is on the rise and the creative benefits are manifold.
What’s the link between yoga for kids and creativity?
As an individually focused physical activity (rather than a competitive sport), yoga builds confidence at each session ‘on the mat’, and in my experience creativity and confidence are inextricably linked — whether kids know it or not.
For some, this confidence and creativity is displayed on their first experience with yoga, but for others, regular practice can bring these qualities out.
There is no such thing as a magic ingredient when it comes to parenting. The aim is simply to provide the best conditions for children to flourish. And when it comes to the aim of trying to encourage their creativity, children’s yoga is both a practical and healthy option.
Most parents and educators will be aware of the value of inspiring creativity in kids, but may struggle to be a role model for this to children. Can you suggest four ways we can feed creativity in adults?
Cultivate a sense of play. This is where we can really learn a thing or two from kids about imagination and lateral thinking — their minds work in incredible, and often hilarious, ways.
Consume creativity. Sometimes being around creativity is a force in itself, so whether it's art, music, film or something else that stirs your inner fire — seek it out and gift yourself with it as much as you can.
Invest time, space and money towards a creative pursuit — block out time in your schedule, create a space at home or in a studio or attend a workshop. Creativity is like being in a relationship that needs nurturing, or like a muscle we want to strengthen. We can't expect it to blossom if we don't nourish it and give it room to grow.
Work through creative blockages. As an adult, I found an art therapy session very helpful in moving through the idea that I wasn't 'good' at art, which I'd believed since I was a child. A lot of us have fears around not being good enough, and society ingrains in us from a young age that creativity is frivolous — something fun to do in your leisure time but not really a serious pursuit. I disagree with this completely — I believe that we are all creative beings and it's not just important, but absolutely necessary for us to tap into our specific brand of creativity, to fully express ourselves and reach our potential. Being in creative flow is much like an athlete being 'in the zone' or being in meditation — incredibly beneficial for the mind, body and spirit. And don't we each deserve that?
With these wise words in mind, we’ve pulled together four fast, but fabulous, ways you can use a GOYOkids yoga audiobook to foster creativity in your child:
Participate participate participate. More than just passively listening, encourage the kids to improvise and embellish the story. You may like to do the class a few times as is, first, then try adding new characters, animals and give a surprise twist at the end of the story!
Don’t offer rewards for joining in. If you have a child you’re convinced won’t join in, avoid leaping for the rewards bucket.Rather trying to motivate children to join in the yoga class by giving an incentive or reward, allow them the space to be intrinsically motivated to have a go. Genuine enjoyment of an activity will allow the creative process to happen.
Freeeeeeeedom! I realise how pushy this is, so brace yourself, but don’t be bossy when it comes to flexibility with kids, especially in their thinking. If they don’t follow the frog pose the way we’ve shown it on the glance sheet diagram, don’t worry. We’d rather they have the freedom to think laterally about how they imagine a yoga frog should look, than be told which way to put their feet. Sometimes, just demonstrating how to achieve a task can reduce the creative ways that kids accomplish that task.
Encourage kids to fail. Sounds counter-intuitive to parenting right? Yes, we said fail – research shows that kids who are afraid of failure, or judgment, are more likely to curb their own creative thought. If your attention wavers while trying to listen to the audiobook, or your legs buckle underneath your downward dog (no injuries please!), have a laugh about it. Laughing leads to happiness, and happiness is a habit that lends itself to creativity.