Friday, October 8, 2010

Creative children.... culture and crafts

How do you encourage a creative, artistic spirit in your baby, toddler or young child?

To encourage creativity in my toddler, I started from birth with encouraging and allowing her to be herself. This meant small things like not saying "Big girls don't cry" or "Oh stop crying" - instead, I've always tried to encourage emotions by saying things like, "Oh honey, I see you're crying, are you sad? What can mama do to help?" Until she had words, I would "give her" words by answering the question back.

Now that she is older, we have a variety of craft materials, dress up supplies and music available for her to enjoy. We also have things that are from various parts of the world so that she isn't just seeing things that "I" know. Further, we've decided that limiting television and mass media will only help our children. This way her decision are hers and not some character's. We now have a 5 month old as well and keeping him out of the capture of media as well, so our daughter's television time (which we try to limit to 30 minutes each day) doesn't include the typical Dora or Minnie Mouse. Children are so impressionable! It is important that we are aware of what goes into our children - we watch their food intake, but sometimes we forget that television, books, in-person marketing also gets inside our children and can have lasting impressions.

We encourage fun play, interaction without hovering and tons of cultural activities, like museums, cross cultural activities and hugs! By exposing art, not just traditional media, we can help grow their minds and expand horizons. Art isn't just a craft box, it is taking in, touching, feeling and BEING a part of this bigger world.

As parents, we feel that by giving choices, allowing creativity and being child-led without an authoritative-type parenting, we can hope that moving forward and as our children grow up both of our children will be able to make decisions and enjoy life to the fullest, with little of "us" inhibiting them, except in instances of true safety concerns.

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