Encouraging children to connect to the beauty around them
How to help children open and appreciate the beauty that surrounds them? Storyberries offers free children's books and parenting tips to encourage kids to enjoy the world around them.
When someone hears the word “beauty” they will most likely know what it means, or at least will create a mental image about it. According to Kant, beauty is pleasure and knowledge combined. The ability to experience pleasure through aesthetics is an essentially human quality, and one that we can encourage our children to enjoy and express.
Enjoying beauty enables both aesthetic sensitivity and develop good taste. Another benefit of appreciating the beauty around us, is that our brain generates dopamine when faced with satisfactory stimuli. This helps our sense of well-being, heightens our feelings of gratitude and helps our minds stay active, curious and healthy. A child who notices the beauty around them will be more sensitive, will have a greater chance of appreciating the little things in life, and will be better able to handle moments of silence and tranquility.
We have all experienced the pleasure and positive emotions caused by watching a sunset, enjoying a work of art, or listening to a favourite song. We can easily share with kids the wonder of everyday life – the colours of a sunset, the shape of mountains or the sound of birds… these are free activities available to everyone.
Aesthetic appreciation is understood as loving with a sense of discernment, and of understanding what is special or extraordinary about the object of our interest. Appreciating beauty from a young age leads to the improvement of many qualities in children (physical and psychological) and can be seen as a vital part of the foundations of their future personality.
Please read on…Storyberries provides free online children’s books, and parenting tips – offering lots of ways to encourage kids to appreciate the beauty around them, and to express their happiness and aesthetic appreciation creatively.
Enjoying and appreciating beauty ourselvesChildren learn so much from the adults around them. When we are open, curious and appreciative, we pass these same values onto our kids.
Allowing time to simply exploreIn early childhood, children have a simple vision of life, which is why in preschool they usually start with descriptions of shapes, colours, and the world they perceive through their senses. There is still no cognitive ability to abstract and interpret, so at this stage the important thing is to allow kids to explore.
Encourage kids to be creativeWhen given scope to express themselves, younger children (up to the age of nine) spontaneously use their imaginations in wonderful ways. We can encourage an enjoyment of beauty and aesthetic appreciation by giving kids lots of opportunities to participate in craft activities, music, dressing-up, acting and lots of reading. Remember too that unscheduled time is really important for kids – to relax and just be.
Attuning to growing passions and interestsBetween the ages of 10 and 12, children are capable of complex mental processes involving logic and interpretation. They begin to have more precise ideas about the things that interest them. This is a really good time to have conversations about what they enjoy, and to look at finding further activities that will enrich their interests.
Enjoying the beauty around us.Provide kids with experiences where they can see beauty for themselves. If we can take them to the countryside, or bring them closer to the sea, so much the better, but even in the city or town there is natural beauty to appreciate. We can also enjoy going to places where there are fine architectural works, or visit museums, many of which are interactive and very child-friendly.
Voicing aesthetic appreciationTalk about objects that can be aesthetically evaluated in the presence of the children. For example, a drawing, a toy, a flower or a melody … Ask the children to reflect on why there are things that seem “pretty” to them and others not.
Order is one source of beauty: we can show children that a tidy room is more “beautiful” than a messy one … It is also healthy to show that we dislike some things, especially given that children are often exposed to the internet, where they have access to all kinds of images.
Finding beauty in each otherReminding kids that beauty can be found within each human being is important – souls exude beauty by the coherence of thoughts and action, by particular ways of living and by the light that shines from within. Let’s not forget to teach that inner beauty is more fascinating than outer beauty.
You might find it helpful to read a story that helps children to understand the concept of inner beauty, The Ugly Duckling is a children’s story which describes beauty and how subjective it is.
Frog’s Starry WishA magical tale about a frog who delights at seeing the stars. Seeing the stars helps frog to connect with beauty and feelings of joy, and motivates him to fulfill his dreams.
Mama Chick’s New Easter HatWhen Mama Chick feels sad, her children work together to make a sunny, colourful hat to cheer her up. A beautiful reminder of the value of sharing happiness and appreciating the beauty around us. Mama Chick shows delight and appreciation for her beautiful new hat and her beautiful children.
Manu Mixes Clay and SunshineChildren learn values from their elders and in this beautiful inter-generational story, Manu takes pride in learning from his father and grandfather. They show him how to make beautiful pottery using clay and the love of his heart. An excellent story for discussing artistic appreciation and family pride.
OdditoriumTake a journey into the world of surreal fine art, and aesthetic appreciation, with artist and children’s author Sue Clancy. Odditorium invites children (and adults) to bring their artistic imaginations to the everyday objects they see.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa and Fleur Rodgers
Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.
Fleur is a meditation teacher in France and uses a compassion and loving-kindness based approach to meditation and slow-minded living. Fleur posts regularly to Instagram @rodgers.fleur . She has two children, is a qualified teacher in adult education and is the founder of Timeouttobreathe.com