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Helping children reach the sun

Published 5:04pm Saturday, May 18, 2013

QUESTION: I really want my children to be more than spectators in life. I want them to be active and involved. How can I help them be creative?

ANSWER: Put a potted plant in good soil, in the right kind of sunlight and it will thrive. Put the same plant in rocks and hide it in the closet and watch what happens.

In “How to Raise a More Creative Child,” authors Larry and Marge Belliston share that, while developing their book, they got together with several friends to talk about creativity. After they’d discussed ideas for a while, they decided to list all the creative things they’d done while growing up.

Collectively, they came up with 100 ideas—all different. The surprise was that 92 of those ideas came from just two people. What made the difference? Environment. Both of those people had a stimulating environment while they were growing up. The setting or situation in which a child lives and plays can promote creativity or crush it. Here are things that we adults can do to keep the atmosphere open and comfortable for our children.

Keep tools available for a child to work with creatively. At your work bench, keep a separate set of tools for your daughter or son. Show your children a variety of kitchen utensils and how to use them.

Keep materials for creativity available: fasteners, glue, scissors, paper, wheels, popsicle sticks, rubber bands, crayons, paints, chalk. Give children play dough (homemade is great) to model different objects of their imagination. Give your kids toothpicks or twigs and white glue and encourage them to create. The results will be towers, teepees, houses, bridges, trucks and people.

Let your children make tents over furniture with blankets.

Buy appropriate toys for creativity: Legos, blocks, Lincoln logs. Provide beads, string and yarn. Help them build model cars, planes, boats. Put together kites.

As much as possible, refrain from using TV. TV is a passive, not a creative tool. Listen to stories and dramatic programs on CDs or the radio. Read out loud to your children. Listening causes your child to participate mentally; it creates images in the mind.

Be encouraging when your children want to create. Be enthusiastic about the creations they show you. Enjoy the less than perfect; in fact, appreciate the attempts and experiences that are much less than perfect. Was it fun? Was it interesting? If it was, it was worth doing.

 If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in raising children, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204. For free emergency child care, call the Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out

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