For a child, being able to express yourself through creativity is one of the joys of life, and also an essential part of development. Children do not always understand how to verbalize what they think and feel, so finding creative ways to outlet feelings helps them to make sense of them and communicate them to others. There are lots of different ways you can encourage a child to discover and express their thoughts, such as through arts and crafts, dressing up, choosing their own clothes, playing games, and more. If you are looking for ideas or want some tips on where to start, this guide to encouraging children to express themselves by being creative has some pointers.
Clothing and Style
Allowing a child to express their personality in creative ways can help to reinforce a strong sense of self. This might mean that you let your daughter experiment with make-up at the weekends, and both boys and girls have fun trying different hairstyles, or clothing.
Clothing is an important tool for self-expression and letting a child try out their own styles and find clothes they enjoy wearing can make them feel good about themselves. We know as adults that wearing the right clothes can make us feel more confident around others and raise self-esteem, and the same goes for children, but more than that it lets them express their likes. Bright clothing, cool designs, and fashionable garments can help some children express their personalities and feel good about themselves, especially amongst their friends. Tommy Hilfiger kids clothing is one example of a brand with funky designs and colors, or you could let them experiment by designing their own clothes. One fun, creative activity is to buy plain t-shirts and allow them to draw their own designs on using fabric pens. They can then be embellished by stitching on button, sequins or anything else you have to hand. Self- expression can be encouraged through clothing, so children should be allowed to choose their own style. Children enjoy giving adults make-overs, so if you have the time it is a fun activity to let your child do your hair or make-up, or choose your outfit for the day!
Another way to encourage a child to explore different styles is to have a dressing up box with all sorts of fancy dress outfits and accessories. They might enjoy being a fairy for the day, or a dinosaur chef!
Arts and Crafts
Making things, drawing and painting are enjoyable things to do, and when a child has created something fantastic out of their own efforts, it helps them feel proud of their achievements. Tangible, hands-on activities will also benefit them in terms of skills for later life.
When making marvelous creations, it is important to let your child go for it and not worry about them making a mess. Just make sure they wear old clothes and put a tablecloth or rug down on which they can create.
Always keep a good stock of creative materials in your home, such as colored paper and card, glue, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, and pompoms, ready for when the creative mood strikes! You could also take the creativity outside and see if a child can create artwork out of natural materials.
Arts and crafts are things that all children enjoy doing because the options of what to create are so diverse. A painted picture can be a way to express emotion, making a model can show imagination, and building something from scratch bring a sense of achievement… not bad for a bit of paint and glue!
Learning a new skill can be a great way for a child to express themselves creatively in a way in which they haven’t done so before. This could mean joining a dance class and expressing their ideas through movement or finding a hobby such as baking. Performance activities such as putting on plays, or playing a musical instrument, is also a great activity to encourage self-expression.
Creative play is where children use their imaginations to make believe or create pretend scenarios. This could be with toys such as figures, dolls, construction toys or anything they can use to create an imaginary world with. Acting out the different roles is a fun way to express thoughts and feelings, and discover more about the world. Children can also explore various ways of behaving through play and discover more about themselves.
The Written Word
Some children enjoy writing to express themselves. This could be in the form of a diary, scrapbook journals, creative stories or poetry. Writing things down enables children to process and express thoughts and feelings, helping them to work through problems and celebrate the good things in their lives. If you want to encourage your children to express themselves through writing, you could give them a writing prompt to help them get started. Writing prompts are fun because they can be to do with anything, and are a good way to get the creative brain working.
When setting activities to encourage a child to express themselves, it is important to let children discover things on their own merit. Too much direction can have the opposite effect and actually hinder the creative process. Ask open-ended questions about a child’s work, such as ‘how did you get the idea to do that?’ to allow a child to expand on what they are doing. Let children make their own judgments and not learn to seek adult approval for the things they create. Through letting them express themselves and showing you are interested will only encourage them to explore further.
Expressing oneself is about discovering who we are as a person, and children begin this process at a very young age. The clothes they wear, and their creative activities are choices that help children to say something about who they are, and the process of doing so empowers them, helping them grow into confident adults.