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How To Encourage Self Expression in Children

creativity in children

Self-expression is crucial to a child’s development. If children are encouraged to express what they want and feel, they will grow into confident and open adults. We cannot stress enough the importance of allowing children to express themselves. They need an environment of respect, love, and support to reveal their inner selves and thus discover who they are and what they like.

Self Expression Activities to Try with Your Little Ones

Children reveal themselves when free to express their inner needs, wants and preferences. Generally speaking, there are three broad types of self expression activities.
1) Artistic expression
2) Playful expression
3) Building expression This is how children express themselves, and you should be there, for them, as a parent. Engage in their activities, support and encourage them.

Artistic Expression

Give your children some colour pencils and paper, and they’ll draw, paint, colour on and on. However, do not ignore them in a corner, thinking they paint some jolly but meaningless little monsters because they don’t do that. This form of artistic expression can provide solid clues as to what your children might be feeling or going through in their day-to-day activities. Engage in conversations with them. Maybe even colour together to learn more about your children’s fears and feelings. Invent and encourage new ways to have fun, like finger-painting, sketching, even writing or painting your nails together. Help children express themselves creatively by allowing them to draw, paint and sketch freely. It will open their mind and free their spirit, giving them confidence for the future. Within those few moments when your child is choosing the next colours, new thoughts and ideas are forming in his mind. Therefore, if he’s in a loving, caring and inspiring environment, he will express those ideas freely and openly to you.

children expressing themselves

Thus, if your children want to play with more nail polish colours, they’ll tell you about it openly. If they want you to help them draw or paint, they’ll ask and engage you in their artistic self expression activities because they know you support them. This way, your little ones will

Playful expression

Play is a form of self expression for children. We advise you also read more about the role of creative play in children’s learning and development. Try to make each activity a form of play for your children. This way, they’ll enjoy it and also learn. For example, if your children are having a tough time taking a bath, make bath time playtime and add some fizzy bath bombs to the mix. You can make up stories and let them unfold at bath time. You can turn countless activities into play, and your children will love them and open up more. Play is also a great social glue that binds together children of the same age. They learn to negotiate, strike up friendships and cooperate with one another. Through play, children also learn what they like, what they prefer. Some might prefer to be the superhero in the game. Others might want to be policemen or princesses. Therefore, they self-express their preferences, ideas, feelings, thoughts.

Playful expression in children

What is even more important is that they learn to understand others’ emotions through their own. They learn empathy and can feel when another child is unhappy or annoyed. Encourage them to express their empathic feelings towards their fellow children, let people around them know how they feel. If they love another child’s toys or peel off nail polish, encourage them to say it. Teach them about compliments and how to express them.

children's drawing

Building Self Expression

Building self expression refers to the activity of building objects. We’re talking play that has a finite, quantifiable result – a dollhouse, a model house, etc. These things require following specific instructions, and your child will not feel happy at all times during the process. Teach and encourage them to get over inevitable bumps that might appear in their road to progress.

child expressing joy

It is the perfect time to let them express their insecurities, fears, even their will to give up mid-way to completing the model car Leggo. How does creativity support children’s development? Well, here’s a good example where the little one is faced with a real-life situation where they can either give up or try to find new ways to move on and finish building that dollhouse. By having to follow up some instructions for building a robot, your children will become more aware of the role of guidelines and rules in life. And that’s a tough one. It’s good if they learn it while still very young.

How to encourage a child to express themselves verbally?

Sometimes, as parents, we might feel locked out of our kids’ minds and souls. We feel like there is something wrong, but they don’t want to tell us. Maybe they don’t know-how. In these situations, try to listen to your child as much as possible, even when they’re not saying much. Spend time together and talk about seemingly minor things like games, camps, aunt Mary etc. You can talk about your own feelings as a parent; what happened to you during the day, and how you feel about it. Tell your child what got you mad and how you expressed that anger. Tell your children what made you happy during the day and how you tried to make other people’s day joyful. Always respond to your children’s gaze. Make eye contact when you catch them looking at you. This will send immediate signals that you are there for them, ready to listen. It will encourage verbal self expression in children. When you talk to your children, make sure you also give them time to respond. Read a story together, and comment on the main characters’ actions and feelings. Let your child guess the next chapter, the following step. Say you’re teaching your child to cook, or you’re simply messing around with a non-toxic makeup set for kids, ensure you talk and describe your actions. For example, say “And now we’re taking the powder brush and apply a little bit of this, and a little bit of that....''

Conclusion on Self Expression in Children

A child who is comfortable expressing his feelings and preferences will grow up to be a confident, creative individual, better-equipped to navigate the vagueries of this world. Help your children practice their self expression skills, participate in their activities and watch them become accomplished adults.

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