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8 Acts You Might Be Doing To Kill Your Kid’s Creativity

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8 Acts You Might Be Doing To Kill Your Kid’s Creativity

It’s a sad truth that some of the world’s best minds are stifled at a young age simply because society has forced them into doing so. Parents are not to blame for this, per se, as for the most part they are doing what they’ve read or been told is right. However, some actions parents take in regard to raising their children unfortunately might be doing more harm than good.

1. Giving Extrinsic Rewards

Okay, it’s definitely easiest to promise an extra scoop of ice cream if your child completes his homework, or practices her piano for a half hour. But by doing so, you’re ingraining two detrimental notions within their growing minds: One, that they should only do work if there is a reward offered; and two, that what they’re doing is actually work. Yes, I understand homework is not the most fun thing in the world to do, but by doing it, and doing it right, it will make learning the next step that much easier. If a child associates playing an instrument with hard work, he won’t be free to get creative with it. Instead, reward a job well done with a more fun piece of music, or a math puzzle that relates to the night’s homework. Every task has some menial part to it, but the reward for completing tasks should relate specifically to the skills built while working through the menial parts.

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2. Over-scheduling

In an effort to making their kids an expert at something, parents often sign their children up for way too many things. Karate, soccer, swimming lessons, and art classes? All this will do is make them a jack of all trades, and master of none. Too often, kids feel like they “have to go to baseball practice tonight,” instead of actually looking forward to it. How many of us, as adults, would want to be up and about until 9PM after a long day’s work, and still have to come home and do more work before bed? I know there are people that function that way, but the truth is they are probably cyborgs. The most successful minds in history have spoken out about the benefits of downtime. It’s when the mind is free from stress and having to follow a regiment that it is able to reflect on the day’s events, and prepare itself for the following day. With no downtime, children go through life never truly being prepared.

3. Limiting choices

On the other hand, giving a child too little to do will also stifle her creativity. I’m sure many parents have experienced this: You go out and buy an expensive toy, playset, etc. that comes in a huge box, and hours later find your kid playing with…the box. Of course, you’re not happy about it because you just spent $200 on cardboard. But to that child, it’s not a box; it’s a spaceship, a train, or a dollhouse. The lesson here is, children see the world differently than adults, and by forcing our narrow viewpoint upon them, we kill their imagination. I’ll let Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson explain this a little further.

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4. Shadowing or hovering

As a kid, I remember absolutely hating when a teacher would circle the room and check over my shoulder while I was completing a task. I always felt like I had better be right, or else I’d be completely embarrassed and never want to show my face in class again. It also made me feel incredibly rigid, so I would make sure I was doing the work her way, and wouldn’t deviate from the set instructions given. Children need to feel free to go about things in their own way, and find their own solutions. If children are constantly just repeating instructions, there will never be any innovation in their thought process.

5. Making them fear failure

Simply put: everyone fears failure. But without failure, success wouldn’t feel as sweet as it does. Unfortunately, we ingrain in our children the idea that failure is a dead end road, with no turning back. This can’t be farther from the truth. In fact, failure is simply a bump in the road to success. You wouldn’t turn back to home if you hit a pothole, right? (I mean, unless you get a flat, but stay with me here). Often, finding the right way to go about solving a problem is all about finding the ways not to go about solving it, and changing your approach. Children need to understand that failure is inevitable, but is able to be conquered. The only way failure wins is if they stop trying altogether.

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6. Rushing them

A notion that is sadly overlooked in today’s society is the idea that children are simply new to life. They truly do not have the experience adults have to understand concepts, and they lack the background knowledge we have that makes it easy for us to connect ideas and come to conclusions fairly quickly. Their brain is a muscle that takes time to form connections, and by rushing children through tasks we make it almost certain these connections will not be made. Let them accomplish goals at their own pace. It might take a little longer than expected, but the connections made will last a lifetime, and they will have a much easier go of it the next time they encounter a similar problem.

7. Making everything a competition

Okay, let me start out by saying I’m not all for the “everybody gets a trophy” thing. But placing the idea that they have to “beat” everyone else puts way too much pressure on children. You’ll notice that even the most famous sports stars aren’t simply obsessed with beating the other team; they’re focused on playing their best, and when they do, they end up winning the game. The only person a child should ever feel like he’s competing against is himself. He should approach every obstacle with the goal of being better at it than he was the day before. Not only will he continue to grow on a daily basis, but he will also be humble about his advances, instead of looking at “how much better” or “how much worse” he is at something than everyone else.

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8. Not being creative yourself

There’s a saying in the adult world: “If it looks stupid, but works…it’s not stupid.” A lot of us are afraid of looking…well, looking like children, when it comes to finding solutions to a problem. By stifling our own creativity, we stifle our children’s. We should be the ones who find new ways of doing things, so our children know it’s okay to go off the beaten path once in a while. We should create drums out of empty paint cans and milk jugs instead of throwing them away; we should make our own wrapping paper or greeting cards instead of buying them. It sounds corny, and it is. But the truth is, that’s what our children need. They need to see that we’re not afraid to drop the act and get silly, that it’s normal to be abnormal. When we force ourselves to walk a straight line, our children will follow. When we choose to skip and zig-zag around it, they’ll be right behind us.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm7.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

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Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important (And How To Do So)

In today’s chaotic world, having family time isn’t always easy. It can get pretty hard to coordinate schedules, especially if the family is large. Life demands that we work, attend school, nurture friendships, hobbies, etc. All of those things are extremely time-consuming and important—but so is spending time with your family.

Why is family time so important? Because we all need love and support, and a good, strong family can provide that regularly. For children, spending time with their family helps shape them into good, responsible adults, improve their mental health, and develop strong core values.

There are many positive effects of spending time with your family. My family and I, for instance (and this includes grandchildren as well), meet every Tuesday night for dinner and games. My older son and I take turns cooking. This gives all of us a chance to try some new recipes. After dinner, we play games. And without fail, they inspire competitiveness and laughter. As family night has evolved, the grandkids have invited their friends over as well, creating the need for more chairs but also expanding our circle of fun.

Aside from the obvious fun and games, there are other reasons why spending time with your family is paramount. In this article, I will provide you with multiple reasons why spending time with your family regularly is a win-win. And then, I will lay out some ways on how to do it.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why Spending Time With Your Family Is Important

Here are six reasons why it’s important to spend time with your family.

1. Provides the Opportunity to Bond

When you spend time together as a family—talking about your day, your highs, your lows—it fosters communication. As parents, it gives you the chance to listen to your children, to hear them out, to learn about what’s going on in their world. It also provides you with the opportunity to use life situations as teaching moments.

Before our Tuesday night dinner/game nights, my family used to see each other pretty regularly but not consistently, especially the grandkids. Our family night changed all that. Now, it’s guaranteed that the grandchildren, along with some of their friends, will be there. Not only do I get to find out what’s been happening in their lives, but they also get to know us better. It’s creating memories they can treasure forever, as well as modeling the Get-Together tradition for when they eventually have families of their own.

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“Spending time partaking in everyday family leisure activities has been associated with greater emotional bonding within families.”[1]

2. Teaches the Value of Family

Taking the time to be with your family lets your children know they are valued—that spending time together is a priority. I know that in today’s world, both parents are busy as both usually working. What better way to let your children know they are loved than by carving out time each week to spend with them?

According to Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., “words like honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage are core to centuries of religious, philosophical, and family beliefs. Use them and others to express and reinforce your family values. Teach children the behaviors that flow from these principles. Use quotes to ignite meaningful dinner conversations and encourage kids to talk about these values.”[2]

3. Enhances Mental Well-Being

Spending that quality time together gives your children a safe platform in which to express themselves, ask questions about things that are bothering them, or talk about their day and things they’ve learned. I know that my 9-year old granddaughter can’t wait until it’s her turn to talk about her day. She usually goes on and on and has to be stopped to give everyone else a chance to talk about their goings-on.

“Research shows the quality of family relationships is more important than their size or composition. Whoever the family is made up of, they can build strong, positive relationships that promote wellbeing and support children and young people’s mental health.”[3]

For children, having the opportunity to seek advice from parents they trust—as well as being able to have a sounding board and help with problem-solving—is priceless. In addition, being able to voice their opinions and be heard—and to feel like what they have to say matters—is an esteem-builder. All of these can have a very impactful positive effect on their well-being.

4. Helps the Child Feel Loved

How do you think a child feels knowing their parents want to spend time with them—talking, sharing experiences, playing games, listening to them? It will make them feel as though they are important, and a child that feels important is happier and more apt to thrive. Setting aside chores or work to spend time with your children demonstrates that they’re essential—that they matter. What a gift to give your child!

“If a child has your undivided attention, it signals that they are loved and important to you. This can be further nurtured by experiencing joyful activities together, as it demonstrates that you want to spend time with your children over and above all of the daily demands.”[4]

5. Creates a Safe Environment

If you regularly spend time with your children, you are also creating an atmosphere of trust. The more trust they have, the more likely they are to share with you what’s going on in their world. As they get older, you’re going to want to know. Negative influences can show up at any time, but if you’ve always been there for your child, they are more apt to come to you and ask for your advice.

Spending time together generates familiarity and feelings of being supported. When a child feels safe and comfortable, they’re more likely to open up. This is one way to get to know your child and know what’s on their minds. Are they okay? Do they need your guidance? If so, how?

6. Reduces Stress

This is significant. We all suffer from stress at one point or another in our lives. Spending time with family helps alleviate that stress. It’s an opportunity to talk things out, get feedback, and maybe brainstorm for a solution to the problem that is causing the stress.

According to Brandy Drzymkowski, “During the holidays, your closest five people probably shifts to family and friends. You may even get to see loved ones who live far away. Good news! This can actually help lower your stress levels. Studies show ‘face-to-face interaction…counteracts the body’s defensive ‘fight-or-flight’ response.’ In other words, quality time spent with loved ones is nature’s stress reliever.”[5]

So, now that you know some of the benefits, what are some ideas for making family time happen?

How to Make Family Time Happen

Here are four things you can do to make family time happen and spend more time with them.

1. Family Dinners

This, as I said above, is a wonderful way to spend time together. While you’re having dinner, you have the chance to discuss things that are going on in your lives—the ups, the downs, and everywhere in between. It’s like having a buffer against life’s challenges.

Aside from that, eating dinner together has many additional benefits. Studies have shown that for kids who eat regularly with their families, there is less risk of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and depression.[6]

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“Our belief in the ‘magic’ of family dinners is grounded in research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals.” It further states, “We recommend combining food, fun and conversation at mealtimes because those three ingredients are the recipe for a warm, positive family dinner—the type of environment that makes these scientifically proven benefits possible.”[7]

According to Parenting NI, “children and adolescents who spend more time with their parents are less likely to get involved in risky behavior. According to studies done by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse via Arizona State University, teens who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to use tobacco, nearly twice as likely to use alcohol and one and a half times more likely to use marijuana.”[8]

As you can see, there are multiple benefits to spending time with each other routinely. You can’t go wrong with this family activity.

2.  Regular Movie Nights

This is another fun event, although, from personal experience, I have to caution that choosing a movie that everyone wants to see is not easy. So, give yourselves plenty of time so you don’t spend two hours searching for a movie, and then end up watching no movie at all because the night is practically over. Try and choose a movie before the day, if possible.

Afterward, open it up for discussion. Ask questions pertinent to the movie. What do you think of ABC? Should they have done that? Would you have done something differently? There are so many questions you can ask to spark a conversation and keep the night going.

3. Game Night

This is another occasion for great fun. If you have a competitive spirit, it makes it even more fun. There are numerous games out there—Balderdash, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, Charades, to name a few—that can create fun havoc. All I can say is, on game nights, don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s okay if you lose the game. The fun is in being together, laughing, debating, and having a good time.

In addition, “Playing board games is great for children for many reasons besides the obvious; it’s fun to play games! Age appropriate games can help children to think strategically, solve problems creatively, work on pattern recognition and build simple math skills. They also help children develop social skills such as following rules, taking turns, and graceful winning or losing. Additionally, a family game night provides an opportunity for children to bond with siblings, parents and family members as well as peers. It can promote tradition building and establish a fun routine.”[9]

So, go find your family a game and start having fun!

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4. Sharing a Hobby

If you and one of your kids like to do the same things, do it more often. For example, my oldest son and his teenage son go on long bike rides together on the weekends. Not only do they get to exercise, but they also get to talk and look at beautiful sceneries. They’ve also incorporated cooking into their routine. They plan the meal, shop, and prepare—activities that bring them closer together.

Sharing a hobby is a great way to bring family members together. It bonds people in amazing ways. According to Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW, “One of the easiest and most important ways to build a child’s self-esteem is to spend time with them doing something not only that they enjoy but something that you also enjoy. There is a special magic that happens between a parent and a child when they share a mutually beloved activity. It sends the message to the child that their parents are having fun, true, honest, real fun, with them.”[10]

Final Thoughts

Spending time with the family is an investment. It is an investment in the happiness, well-being, and security of that system. It can also serve as a way to break out of the daily rut and the constant worldly demands, while at the same time, building a strong family unit.

Even though it isn’t always easy to find the time, finding the time is key to staying close and to providing and receiving love and support. There is no greater gift than the gift of time. That’s what we all seem to be missing nowadays. So, in giving that gift consistently, everyone feels loved and appreciated.

The family that takes the time to interact regularly is typically happy. They know they are part of a tribe, and that’s essential in today’s chaotic world. To know that there are people whom you can count on—people who will have your back in times of need—is invaluable.

Now, go and plan something plan with your family, if you haven’t already.

Featured photo credit: Jimmy Dean via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Pittsburgh Parent: Spending Time Together—Benefits of Family Time
[2] Roots of Action: Integrity: How Families Teach and Live Their Values
[3] Beyond Blue: Healthy Families
[4] Esperance Anglican Community School: The importance of family time
[5] Brandy Drzymkowski: Spending Time With Loved Ones Reduces Stress
[6] Harvard Graduate School of Education: Harvard EdCast: The Benefit of Family Mealtime
[7] The Family Dinner Project: BENEFITS OF FAMILY DINNERS
[8] Parenting NI: The Importance of Spending Time Together
[9] WNY Children: Family Game Night- The Benefits of Game Play
[10] Child Therapy Boston: The Benefits of Sharing a Hobby With Your Child

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