Creativity sparks excitement and excitement sparks focus. Children naturally communicate through art and play and giving time, space, and freedom for a child to explore creative outlets works wonders for their confidence and self-esteem, while helping them in their daily routines at home and school. But a fire needs oxygen to burn. Consider the following tips to fuel your child’s creative fire…
Creativity Engages the Brain
Different parts of the brain are engaged during creative expression. Let’s take a look at some creative activities and see how they engage different parts of the brain…
- Sweeping a brush across a canvas requires motor skills
- Drawing a picture of a memory requires analytic and sequential operations, logic, and abstraction
- Working through the sequence of steps needed to build a model requires attention skills and working memory
No matter what the activity is, as long as it’s promoting creative expression, the brain will be focused and engaged on doing something positive.
Creative Activity Affects Mood
Tip #1 – Promote creative downtime in which your child works on an activity like painting or building in a comfortable, quiet place.
It’s no secret that students with ADHD have an abundance of creativity, they are just merely searching for an outlet. Creative activity does all of the following for children with ADHD:
- generates a relaxation response
- improves mood
- increases attention span
- decreases impulsive behavior
- promotes better decision-making
- improves focus
Studies have shown that downtime helps to get a student’s dopamine flowing, not only through the thinking parts of the brain but the reward centers as well. For a student with ADHD, this may be the only time of the day that they feel comfortable in their skin. Promote downtime by not over-scheduling your child, allowing them time to do nothing.
Room for Improv-ment
Tip #2– Don’t put your child in a box. Say yes to improv! Too many rules and regulations become overwhelming for a child with ADHD. Allow them some room to express their authentic selves.
In improv comedy, an actor will pick up an object and think, “What can I do with this?” “I wonder what would happen if….” Children with ADHD show their creativity best when they are left to their own devices. Here are some helpful tips to facilitate your child’s creative self:
- Forgo binding your child’s mind with rules or directions and allow them to express their authentic selves to find their own creative output.
- Offer help, but never urge it
- Try to keep criticisms positive
- Refrain from taking over or controlling their activities or projects and let it be theirs completely
Enjoy the Creative Process
Tip #3 – Enjoy your child’s creative process. Celebrate their creative expressions. Rather than setting the bar too high, let them have fun with their creative activities without worrying about the quality of the outcome.
The key for a family to encourage and foster creativity in their child is to not set the bar too high or to “direct” them. The goal is not perfection. Some children enjoy the sensory experience of using art materials and their artwork may only be scribbles or an amorphous lump of clay. Other children with learning differences produce more visually sophisticated pieces.
The important thing is to focus on the process, not the final product. Encourage the child to concentrate on how it feels to paint, build, sing, sculpt, etc. and have them talk about their work. If they don’t volunteer, some coaching may be required. Ask simple questions, giving them time to answer.
If a child expresses disappointment about their artwork, ask what they would have done differently, instead of automatically reassuring them. This plants the idea in the child that they can problem-solve and try again.
Get Positive and Compliment Often
Tip #4 – Compliment your child often. Children with ADHD either become weighed down by negative feedback, or become excited and passionate when they are praised for doing something well.
Children with ADHD are sensitive to criticism and they unfortunately hear negative comments daily. This attributes to day-to-day tasks seeming boring, struggling to meet education goals, and discourages them from thinking outside the box creatively.
Encourage positive responses to counteract the negativity and promote creativity. “Catch” your child doing something well in their daily routine, be it a chore or an accomplishment at school, and leave a complimentary note for them. Notes like these give ADHD students the positive feedback they need, while also demonstrating how to give compliments to others, a valuable social skill.
Additionally, take time to discuss your child’s creative projects and how they feel about the choices they made. The child will learn their creative choices are alright and that it is fine to do things because they feel right, even if they don’t serve someone else’s purpose.
Sources include ADDitude Magazine