As a teacher at a K-12 school, I have seen firsthand some of the unique challenges, struggles, and anxieties that faculty, parents, and students face this year. Whether a school opens in person, stays entirely virtual, or runs a hybrid model somewhere between those two options, there are no easy decisions and there are a lot of worries, fears, and anxieties to face. In the midst of all this, parents may wonder: How can we help our children through this?
Now, of course we should listen to our children and hear their thoughts and feelings. We should seek to respond with love and God’s truth. We should continue to attend church and bring our kids to hear the word of God preached (as we are able given our circumstances, in whatever form that may safely take for us). We should teach the Bible to them in our homes and pray with them. These are the foundational things. In this post I’d like to suggest one additional way to help kids cope with COVID-19: getting creative.
Creativity Is a Central Part of Human Identity
Creating is such a central aspect of God’s identity that it’s the very first thing the Bible tells us about him. In the beginning God created. This is important for us to reflect on because God made us in his image. This truth about God tells us something about ourselves. We are creative beings with the capacity to make things that are beautiful, good, and express truth. In fact, creating is not just something we can do if we want to, creativity is an essential component of being a human. Given what the Bible teaches us, it’s no wonder many studies are finding that creative outlets can help us in a variety of ways. One review of academic literature on creativity states, “the studies included in our review appear to indicate that creative engagement can decrease anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances.” As Christians, we can embrace these findings, not only because they are based on reliable, peer-reviewed studies, but because we know there is a theological grounding for them in God’s character and our human nature.
Encouraging our kids to be creative and getting creative with them can help them (and us) relax and find joy in life. In addition, getting creative is one way to help our kids process and express themselves. That is something that may be sorely needed in times when the future feels so uncertain, normal routines of life have been interrupted. We and our children have much to grieve these days. From the loss of much anticipated experiences to the loss of loved ones, there is plenty in our life to lament. Providing time and space for creativity can be a healing balm for our children.
Some might get this far in the article and have a plethora of ideas for ways to be creative with their kids. That’s wonderful! However, if you would like a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing, here are some:
- Designate nights of the week for different creative activities. There could be a night to paint, or play music. When you or your kids are just tired, watching a good movie and talking about it can be a more low-key creative outlet. Many games also give opportunities for creative expression and problem solving in a fun way.
- Give your kids creative projects. Give them a theme or ask them to come up with one and ask them to write a story about it. Find something for them to paint, sculpt, or draw. Challenge them to create their own song about a topic and perform it for the family.
- Get outside. Gardening is a creative outlet which allows us to appreciate God’s creation while we do it! Go for a walk and learn the names of the trees and plants in your neighborhood. Create a log of all the plants or animals you can see and identify.
- Serve others. Have your kids make cards to encourage family members and friends, or those who are alone and isolated.
These ideas only scratch the surface. Brainstorm ideas that work for your family. You can do it. God made you in his image and you are creative!