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Encourage kids' creativity

Tracy B. McGinnis is creator of www.caffeinatedpen.comHer work has appeared in dozens of magazines on variety of topics. For more diet and fitness articles, click here.

Creative kids

Kids are naturally creative, engaging in imaginary and artistic play that typically means too many fingerpaintings to fit on your walls. Find out why this creativity is important and what you can do to inspire more of it in your kids.

Creative siblings painting on the floor

The benefits of creativity

Charlotte Reznik, PhD, child educational psychologist and associate clinical professor of psychology at UCLA, says that tapping into a child's imagination provides many benefits. These include:

  • strengthened bonds between parents and children
  • a safe way to talk about challenges with friends or school
  • relief from boredom
  • coping skills to deal with fear, low self esteem, loss and other emotions
  • easing of physical symptoms such headaches and stomachaches.
Reznik has created many activities that you can do with your children at www.imageryforkids.com. For example:
  • Take an imagination vacation. Have your child close his eyes and imagine (out loud) a wonderful place he'd like to visit. By the end of the "vacation," you'll have learned about your child's dreams, worries, likes, etc.
  • Have a dialogue between hands. This is a great activity for 4th grade and up that helps young minds access both sides of their brain (logical and intuitive). Have your child pick two thin markers of different colors. Ask her to write a question with her dominant hand. Then have her non-dominant hand answer. Go back and forth between them, and you'll be surprised what emerges.
Sue Waite-Langley of Creative Tutors in Salt Lake City says, "Children need the opportunity to be creative. Video games, TV and toys with bells and whistles destroy a child's ability to creatively engage her brain in order to entertain her." She adds, "In general... encouraging creativity in children is not expensive, time consuming or rocket science." She offers these tips to help you get started:
  • Crayons, paint, chalk and a generous supply of paper will prod your child to create art.
  • A CD player with appropriate music will encourage your child to absorb music's rhythm, cadence and structure.
  • Puzzles of all kinds allow children to practice problem solving.
  • A box of old clothing and costume jewelry can encourage children to create stories and costumes and to explore the possibilities of different lives.
  • Plenty of outdoor time allows children to explore how they relate to the natural world.

Up next: Encouraging creativity in your kids

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