Here’s something middle-aged and older parents can relate to: Reminiscing on your childhood, how often did you go outside to play? Remember those makeshift outdoor games using rubber bands as jumping rope, or flipping bottle caps, or hopping around chalk drawings on the ground? Kids back then certainly let their imagination run wild.
But times have changed and children today are likely to be stuck indoors, in front of the TV or at their devices. Computer games are fun and some are even educational, but being sat all day pushing buttons means that active and creative play rates among youngsters have plummeted over the years.
Children’s days are so crammed with study and structured activities nowadays that carefree childhood time is a scarce resource. Studies conducted by the likes of American psychologist Peter Gray PhD at Boston College and even an Australian laundry detergent maker confirm that kids today play a whole lot less than their parents did 30 years ago.
In fact, children’s play rates have been on the decline since 1955. And there are real consequences to that. One Malaysian research claims that 20% of local kids suffer from stress and anxiety due to the stifling of play. Another survey by the National Health Morbidity Survey group shows an increase in mental health issues in children aged five to 15.
Paediatricians and psychologists agree that playtime is an essential part of raising healthy, well-adjusted, creative children. So what inventive activities can you do to build their imagination?
1. Bring out the colour pencils, coloured markers and lots of paper.
Scribbling is a natural way for toddlers to learn coordination and exercise muscle control. Let them draw anything from their inspiration, freely and without restriction. Studies suggest that not only can colours influence a child’s mood and behaviour; they also stimulate the brain and body for better health.
2. Seed the love for doing things together by getting creative with them.
Embark on collaborative art projects with your kids. You can make pompoms with yarn, or paste flowers and leaves from the garden to paper to create a picture using natural objects. Don’t underestimate how nifty this can be, or how ingenious a child can get when given the simplest toys and tools.
3. Creativity can be applied to problem solving.
When looking for creative projects, keep problem solving in mind as this helps them learn analytical and critical thinking skills. But remember, not all activities need to be goal oriented. Let your child make their own rules. You’ll be amazed how original a child can be at answering and explaining a challenge.
4. Mix creativity with your kid’s passion.
Do a little research into the things that can inspire your child. Checking words like “children’s crafts” or “kid’s activities” on the Internet can easily give you plenty of choices for colouring sheets, craft projects and artistic ideas that can be done at home. Allow your child to tell you what’s important to them.
Beyond these play activities, there are changes you can make to turn your home into an environment that encourages imaginative playtime and foster your child’s creativity
1. Create little trays of interesting objects and leave them around for your kids to access on their own.
Depending on their age, the tray could have supplies for a complete art project, or items they can use for imaginary play. Don’t forget kids can be pretty resourceful when left to their own devices.
2. Use colour to enhance your child’s creativity.
Start an innovative corner at home and paint it blue. Blue is the colour of the sky, the ocean and symbolises safety. When kids perceive their surroundings as a safe space, they will naturally become more explorative, enthusiastic and motivated.
3. Be kind to yourself and your child.
While you don’t want to limit their creativity, you also shouldn’t lose your temper when they accidentally scrawl on the walls. Instead, show them the proper places to express themselves. For the walls, use paints that are easy to clean and have high washability to make the hassle of cleaning up their scribbling a breeze, so that it’s one thing less to worry about.
This article is part of the Child Wellness Programme by Nippon Paint Malaysia, in its efforts to raise awareness on children’s wellness and development, and empower parents with the relevant knowledge to make informed decisions to create uplifting environments for their children’s growth developments. This Programme focuses on enabling clean air, safe touch and creativity for infants, toddlers and preschoolers respectively. In line with the Programme, Nippon Paint also features innovative functional coating solutions to keep little ones safe under its Child Wellness Range.
Anti-Formaldehyde with Active Carbon Technology¹: Infants spend all their time indoors and are especially sensitive to chemicals and allergens in the air. Breathe easy, with Active Carbon Technology to absorb harmful formaldehyde and refresh the air.
Anti-Viral & Anti-Bacterial with Silver Ion Technology: Children learning to walk touch every surface in your home to support themselves. Explore safely, our range stops harmful viruses² and bacteria³ from spreading on walls. Silver is one of the world’s oldest natural antimicrobials. It resists the growth of micro-organisms - like viruses, bacteria, mould and fungi.
Effortless Cleaning with Anti-Stain Technology: When children start getting creative, the largest canvas for them to start drawing on is your walls! Play freely, cleaning walls is now effortlessly easy! Stationery and household stains such as crayons, colour pencils, juice, sauces, etc, are easily removed. The paint film has excellent scrub resistance, up to 10,000 scrubs⁴.
Find out more at nipponpaint.com.my/childwellness.
1.This function is only available in Odour-less AirCare.
2.Viruses - HFMD (Coxsackievirus A16), H1N1 (Swine Flu).
3.Bacteria - E. coli, MRSA, Staphylococcus Aureus.
4.When tested under experiment/laboratory conditions.