Creativity is a value that’s priceless in today’s modern world. In a global society that prioritizes innovation and adaptability, creativity is what drives these forward. It’s no longer just the painters, musicians, and writers of the world who rely on their creative thinking skills. Engineers, healthcare professionals, and even policymakers do so as well.
As parents and guardians of the next generation, you have a unique role to play in fostering such creativity in your children. Nurturing your teen’s imaginative mind will allow you to set them up for success in their future, no matter what path they seek. Your child will also thank you for encouraging their creative spirit as it relates to their self-realization and overall happiness.
Here’s a guide for parents on the importance of nurturing creativity in a teen’s everyday life, plus five ways to do so.
The Importance of Encouraging Creativity from a Ripe Young Age
While it’s easy to associate creativity with arts and crafts, its impact seeps into a child’s problem-solving, the quality of their interpersonal relationships, and even their mental well-being. A study by Geher et al. (2017) found that creative activities positively impact emotional intelligence and vice versa. Emotional intelligence is a crucial value to ingrain in any developing child, especially those going through a critical period such as adolescence.
Beyond the developmental level, creativity is also responsible for a number of societal implications. As future adults, this generation of teenagers will face challenges that require innovative solutions. Parents that encourage creative thinking today will be able to equip their children to solve the problems of tomorrow—be they environmental issues, social injustices, or challenges in the healthcare system. Even simple routines that foster creativity—like drawing, cooking with parents, or dressing oneself without fear—can make a huge difference in the creative risk appetite and hard work that young adults will eventually nurture in themselves.
How Parents Can Inspire Their Teen Kids to Be More Creative
That said, below are five simple ways that parents can inspire creative thinking and action in their teen kids:
1) Be Open to Exploring Creativity Outside of Structured Activities
A lot of parents make the mistake of thinking that organized and structured activities—such as scheduled art projects, music lessons, and writing assignments, among others—are the best and only ways to foster creativity in their kids. On the contrary, activities don’t always have to be regimented to be beneficial for a teen’s creative mind. Unstructured time, whether a teen spends it sketching aimlessly or making plans to buy leggings and a T-shirt to DIY with their parents, can be just as powerful for igniting the fires of creativity.
It’s best to avoid being overly reliant on structured activities, as these can sometimes stifle the natural flow of creativity that arises from spontaneous expression. Instead of shying away from unstructured creative time, think of it as the “playground” of the mind—a space where your teenager can freely explore, make mistakes, and discover their unique voice. Just like how a free afternoon running around a playground can spark a child’s imagination, unrestricted time spent with a sketchbook, a guitar, art supplies, or sewing materials—free of rules or assignments—can unleash a teenager’s creative potential. As parents, learn to balance between structure and freedom, as this balance can be the key to nurturing a well-rounded and creatively vibrant individual.
2) Expose Your Teen to Different Experiences Outside the Classroom
Diverse experiences can enrich a young mind like nothing else. Whether it’s a trip to a local art gallery or an interactive science exhibition, these activities can expose your teen to various perspectives and will help broaden their creative horizons.
Networking is equally essential, as connections with other artists and other kids with the same interests can help hone your teen’s social skills, cultivate their interest in artistic pursuits, and even boost their general confidence in themselves. Many schools and community centers offer opportunities for teens to interact with professionals from multiple creative fields. Grab these opportunities if you ever have the chance.
Take note that these enriching experiences outside the classroom don’t always have to be grand or costly. Even simple activities like hiking in nature, cooking a meal from a different culture, or volunteering at a local event can spark your teen’s creativity. Providing them with rich experiences will allow them to synthesize new ideas and viewpoints, thus expanding their cognitive toolkit.
3) Always Look for New Education and Learning Opportunities
Your teen’s academic performance will be important to nurturing their creativity, in particular skills like problem-solving and creative discipline. But the same also goes for extracurricular activities that tap into possible creative outlets for your child. There are plenty of schools and other institutions that offer short-term courses in things like digital art, music, and creative writing. Alternatively, online platforms like Coursera and Skillshare offer myriad courses your child can enroll in to light their creative fire.
Don’t underestimate the value of real-world projects and challenges, either. Whether it’s a community garden initiative or a small coding project, these practical applications offer a different learning environment where teens can apply their theoretical knowledge in creative new ways. They may do a lot to instill your teenager with a sense of achievement and purpose as well as confidence in their own creative abilities.
4) Harness the Power of Technological Tools to Foster Creativity
While the digital world can present all kinds of distractions to kids, it can also offer unparalleled creative growth resources and is best navigated with the guidance of a parent. There are numerous software platforms, like Adobe Creative Suite, for those interested in digital art and design. But it’s not just about high-end software; even free apps like Canva or GarageBand can be great starting points if you want your child to dabble into digital art and music production.
Helping your teen get access to these platforms will enable them to create graphics, compose music, or even build their own website with ease and confidence. Let them make the most out of the digital world’s vast resources and support them in their journey of self-discovery through their creative endeavors.
5) Shower Your Teen with Support
Lastly, here’s an important reminder for any parent or guardian raising a child: your words matter. Praising a child’s effort at creativity, rather than their innate ability, will encourage a growth mindset for your teen. This, in turn, will empower them to tackle challenges head-on and stoke their appetite for creativity, even amidst disappointment and failure. Taking the time to actively listen and engage with your teenager about their creative projects can make all the difference in how they view themselves and how they approach their art.
Say for example your teenager is writing a short story. Instead of merely praising the effort, you could ask questions that prompt them to think deeply about their characters or the story’s setting. This engagement will transform an otherwise passive activity into an interactive and enriching experience. It also allows you, as the parent or guardian, to bond with your child and make them feel your tangible support for their creative endeavors.
Don’t underestimate the power of a dedicated space for creative pursuits. Put up a “creativity corner” in your home with various art supplies, one that your teen can share with your other kids. This can be your kids’ safe space for imagination and innovation, and some truly magical moments for their creative life may happen here.
You won’t be alone in this noble effort to nurture creativity in your teenager. From supportive online forums for parents to workshops led by experts, the resources available to you are abundant. Invest in your child’s creative skills today, and unleash their boundless potential tomorrow.