Helping our boys to be themselves can be a bit of a challenge. Some boys aren’t exactly keen on sharing their inner selves with the rest of world — and that’s okay, as long as they are confident in themselves.
Parents can help boys discover (and express) their authentic selves by encouraging and facilitating creativity. Here’s how:
Provide a Variety of Materials
Children are influenced by everything in the world around them. If you want to instigate creation, you’ve got to give them a variety of materials, and they will choose the ones that they have an affinity with. Different materials are good for different things; some like to draw, others like to build or write.
Some kids, though, are reluctant to experiment because they’re worried about the outcome. They are hindered by their fear of mistakes or inability to expertly create. But drawing, painting, building and writing are all about trial and error. Encourage and support experimentation, and provide a bit of structure if you think it will help your son. The 4th-grade writing lesson plans on Studentreasures.com , for example, provide handy resources to help with creative words.
Encourage out-of-the-box and non-conventional thinking too. Your son doesn’t have to build the Lego creation featured on the outside of the box; he can use the bricks inside to build anything he wants. In fact, Lego play facilitates spatial awareness and problem solving. (The Fractuslearning.com site shows the benefits of Lego in more detail if you want to dive down this area.)
The blank page or canvas can be intimidating. It helps to give boys a springboard to creativity. Inspiration can come from anywhere, so be sure to provide a wide range of stimuli.
There is, of course, the risk that the children will copy or mimic the examples, and it’s important to not discourage this imitation because it is okay at the beginning. You can gradually encourage them to add their own personal touch or perspective. How can they link an example to the things they are interested in and make it their own?
Emphasize the Process, Not the Final Product
Creation is not about the end-product. (Though the end product is certainly a very lovely payoff!) The most important part of being creative is the process. As children work on projects, ask about their strategies and inspiration. This is where we can refocus on the idea of being okay with “failure” and failing to be okay.
When our children are scared of being creative, they may be suffering from fear of failure. If we want our boys to be creative, we must honor the failures as much as the successes. And, lest we forget, we must remind ourselves (and our boys) that most humans learn more from failures than from successes.
Asking Authentic Questions
Encourage your son to reflect on the process of creation. Ask him how he came up with his idea. This question prompts a child to reflect on his motivations, and may lead to deeper conversation.
When a project does not turn out the way your son wanted, ask him what he hoped to achieve. In talking about it, your son may discover an idea or insight that can help him revise his project (or begin a new one).
Encourage Playfulness in Life
If you son is reticent to be messy or to step outside of the rules, encourage free play and exploration.
As parents, we often promote order — and sometimes limit play — because it’s easier for us if our kids don’t make a mess that we’ll have to clean up later. But “messing around” can stimulate new ideas and benefit the brain. Give your son space to make messes – and teach him how to help clean up.
Humans are creative beings. Help your son unleash his creativity.
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