inspiring creativity in your children

One of the tremendous joys of parenting is discovering the gifts and talents within your children— and one of the major responsibilities moms & dads have is to help foster those gifts.  If you are blessed with creative children—musically or artistically —I have found there are some basics that have to exist in the home in order to keep your sanity!  In any family, there can be personality clashes and extreme frustration when kids want to create and parents want to maintain order in the home.  Having raised four creatives myself, I learned a few things along the way and this is what I know:

1. ENVIRONMENT: Provide a space for their pursuit that is dedicated to that endeavor.  If your child is a piano student, and they sit down to practice when Dad is trying to decompress and watch the news, a war can break out in five seconds!  Having an understanding in the family that this time and this place is dedicated to little Jane's piano practice will encourage her to sit down and feel safe enough to play, make mistakes, try again, and play ‘til her heart's content. Set a timer for her practice so everyone knows that when the time expires, family activity may resume in that space. A dedicated time and place {environment} is key to channelling creative energy in a positive way—and when those boundaries are established, parents are enabling children to focus better in life as a whole. 

My two sons are both amazing drummers and started playing around the age of 10 years old. Could they share a drum set? Of course not! We had two drum sets in the house for years. YEARS! I’m not sure that I’ve recovered yet. But to see them travel the world playing music was so rewarding and my heart swells as I remember those {loud} years of practice.  Sometimes practice was in our garage, sometimes it was in their bedroom, and as they got older and played with their friends, practice was moved to someone else’s house who had more space and fewer neighbors. The dynamic changed a bit and the boundaries at that time were related to practice hours while managing other adolescent responsibilities. 

2. COMMUNICATION: Have open-ended conversations frequently with your kids about their creative ideas. Realize that true creativity stems from breaking “rules.” I don't mean rebellion— but allowing a child to give you their perspective with NO adjustments and no confinements.  For instance:  when drawing, painting, stylizing a backpack, fixing hair, decorating their room, or simply writing a story for school, ask questions like, "What are you telling me?  This is what I hear/see/feel…is that what you are telling me?  Instead of saying, “Wow, nice purple hair….(not!!)" and rolling eyes, ask, “Wow! I like that you are developing such an original style with your hair...what are you telling me?”  My oldest son needed to stand out from the crowd at age 13.  He bleached his nearly-black hair blonde at a friends house without asking or telling me.  My first impulse was to confine him and say, “um, no.”  But to him, it was just cool. He said he just wanted to see what it would look like and decided he liked it, and wondered if he could he keep it!  My response: “Sure, but next time, it would make me feel better if you could ask me first. And son, do you plan on using any other colors in the future?  If so, let's talk about it first.”  Ha!  He moved on to other things soon after...but enjoyed the attention he got from cool hair for a while. {sidenote: I had four teenagers at the same time. FOUR. Hair color quickly became the least of my worries!}

3. RISK: Lastly, creativity requires risk of failure.  Be prepared to soothe and mend the broken ego when an idea does not work. The natural parental response may be frustration that there is a mess to clean up with no final product. Ask, “what did we learn?  You're right— scotch tape does NOT work when trying to build a fort out of heavy cardboard.  Let's clean up the five rolls of tape that you used and try a different way. Masking tape might work better, or here, see what happens with duct tape! I heard it works on anything.” :)  Creative children tend to be paradoxically perfectionists also, and their mistakes can be more frustrating to them than you can possibly imagine.  Give them the freedom to fail...and fail again.  When they see that you accept them—failures and all—they will relax and accept themselves more easily.  The biggest barrier to creativity for all of us is the fear of failure.  

I've been blessed with four very creative kids who never cease to amaze me with their talents.  BUT the messes that were made, the boundaries that had to be set and REset again, the NOISE...OMG...the noise, and the tears when ideas did not work, were all a part of it. There is nothing more rewarding as a parent, however, than watching your child grow in the areas that God gifted them!

Finally, parents, do take time to turn off your phone, turn off the TV, shut down the devices and just let your child see YOU being creative….it works wonders for the soul!o you have tips of your own? 

Do you have tips of your own? Share here!


veronica conley joined the destiny studio staff in 2013 as a piano instructor. besides being an experienced and accomplished pianist, she has always been a mom first and her greatest joy and ministry has been MOM to sarah, ryan, amy, and david.