From a preschool child’s first drawing proudly hung on the fridge to an older child’s growing mastery at painting, art has always been an important way for children to develop skills and express creativity. It’s well known that arts and crafts can help children develop abilities like fine motor skills, but there are also other lesser known benefits, such as emotional development and problem-solving skills.
What’s more, scientists have discovered that crafts can contribute to well-being when a person is deeply immersed in a creative activity, known as a state of “flow.” When someone is engaged in a hobby or pursuit they really enjoy, they often lose track of time and of what is happening around them. The state of flow, also known as being “in the zone,” can be very beneficial and even reduce stress and anxiety. In the uncertainty of today’s world, as stressful events send our children’s emotions into overdrive, finding a creative activity that encourages flow may be more important than ever.
Here are some tips on encouraging your child to find their state of flow:
- Don’t schedule every minute of your child’s day but rather allow time for them to just be. Audrey Monke notes that very young children are often in a state of flow naturally in their play, one reason why unstructured play is so important, especially in the preschool years.
- Encourage your child to pursue an activity for their enjoyment of it. Susan K. Perry suggests that focus on achievement with bribes or rewards can detract from a child’s intrinsic motivation to learn. Enjoying the process of a creative endeavor rather than concentrating on a finished product is important.
- Allow your child to choose an activity that is meaningful to them. A child who loves sharks, for example, could be encouraged to learn about their favorite type of shark and sculpt it.
- Provide open-ended activities where your child can make decisions and determine the outcome, such as taking household materials and creating something totally new.
- As motor skills develop, your child may be very motivated to undertake a more complex hobby, such as knitting or crochet, something that may be fun to learn together as parent and child.
With these tips, you and your child will be on your way to enjoying the process of creating and the many benefits it can bring.