8 Ways to Cultivate More Creativity in Teens
Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Art and creativity can be easily overlooked in the development of young adults, but research shows it plays an important role in their lives.
Students who study art are four times more likely to win an academic achievement award, three times more likely to be awarded for school attendance and even score higher on their SAT tests according to a 10-year national study by anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University. These habits can translate well in their future endeavors at work and in their relationships.
Here are eight ways to help your teen cultivate more creativity in their life. Try them out, or get inspired to create your own steps to nurture your teen’s creativity.
1. Be More Creative Yourself
“If you want your children to be more creative, practice creativity yourself,” writes Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way for Parents. “Every child—and every parent—is creative. For some of us, it may be easier to see our children’s creativity than our own.”
In other words, find that thing you love to do and make time to do it. Your children are always watching and looking up to you (even when it doesn’t seem like it), so it’s up to you to set the example.
It doesn’t have to be high art. Try to get to a dance class, make a pie, or make time for a creative hobby like crotchet or playing an instrument. And give yourself bonus points for sharing this creative pursuit with your child.
2. Celebrate Failures As Much As Success
It’s time to redefine failure. Some of the most creative people in the world tell us that it’s a valuable part of the creative process.
Author J.K. Rowling has famously said, “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.”
Teens can be quite receptive to failure and mistakes, and if you’re not careful they may internalize these experiences and carry it with them for years.
“Mistakes are okay; they’re the stepping stones of progress,” write Marc and Angel Chernoff in 1000 Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently. “If you’re not failing from time to time, you’re not trying hard enough and you’re not learning.”
So encourage your kids to take risks and find ways to celebrate when they try something new.
3. Buy the Materials
Teens are much more likely to pursue their creativity if they have access to the raw materials.
Sarah Schumacher, art director for Omega Teen Camp, says that one of the first steps to helping build more creative teens is to pick a craft and buy the materials for them.
“Being a teenager is hard and they may be lacking an outlet for their energy,” she said. “They might resist it at first, but to create a piece of work is an incredible experience. All you have to do is give your kids the space and resources to discover what it can do for them.”
4. Share Your Music
Sure, they may say your 60s rock sounds nothing like the kind of music they like, but that exposure is worth it. You can also ask them to play you their favorite music.
Research shows that music improves teens’ skills in math and reading, along with promoting more creativity, social development, personality adjustment, and self-worth, according to dosomething.org.
5. Take a Language Class Together
Teens that can speak and read another language have access to more culture, literature, and customs. You don’t actually have to take classes together, but it might be fun to practice with them or be able to speak another language in the house.
6. Schedule Creativity in Your Weekly Calendar
Schumacher says the book Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon is her personal artistic bible. One of his best pieces of advice is to make a routine.
Why not make a night dedicated to the arts where you write poems, draw, or host a dance party in your living room? Making it a regular event can also spur creativity and each week a different family member can pick the activity.
7. Encourage Creative Community
Teens get bombarded with a lot of competition when it comes to grades, getting into college, and even friendships.
“I encourage teens to surround themselves with people who support their creative efforts—whether it’s to dress crazy, make a music video, or try a challenging yoga posture,” says Anna Farkas, founder of Juvé Teen Yoga.
She says it’s helpful to remind teens to be mindful about the comparing game, especially when it comes to social media.
“Encourage them to use it to share their gifts, like posting writing, artwork, or music they made,” she says.
This practice can help them to use social media to feed their artistic efforts.
8. Be Silly!
It sounds obvious, but when was the last time you enjoyed a big belly laugh with your teen? Teens have so much pressure on them today to achieve good grades, be popular, excel in extracurricular activities, and more. Consider carving out a little time every now and again to be silly just for the fun of it. Maybe it's a food fight, drenching each other while washing the car, or just swapping funny stories.
© Omega Institute for Holistic Studies