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This Innocent Little Comment on a Child’s Drawing Can Kill Their Creativity

This Innocent Little Comment on a Child’s Drawing Can Kill Their Creativity

Your child comes home and presents you with a drawing of your house. There’s a blue house, a yellow sun, and a green sky. You admire their handiwork and then gently ask why the sky is green. Shouldn’t it be blue? Most teachers and parents would have the same reaction, but before you speak, stop! That innocent little comment carries a powerful punch. Unbeknownst to you, you are about to squelch your child’s natural developing creativity.

Everyone has the ability to be creative, however, Professor of Biology and neurobiologist Erin Clabough Ph.D. writes that[1]

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“creativity can be easily crushed by goals imposed by others.”

Not everyone needs to see the world in the same light- and they shouldn’t. Before you mention that sky should be blue, consider your reasons carefully. Your child can see that a sky is blue, but in their world it isn’t. Allow them the freedom to be creative. Creativity fosters critical thinking and problem solving skills. It helps people to deal with stress and adapt to changes.

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Most adults unwittingly squash creativity and limit imagination with misguided good intentions.

In fact, you may be surprised at some of these creativity busters.

  • Criticizing– You may believe constructive criticism helps, but you are crushing their creativity.
  • Pressure to Perfection– Making your child feel pressured to succeed, putting all of the emphasis on a perfect end product instead of their creative process
  • Helicopter parenting– Give your child space. Fluttering around them only builds up pressure to perform for you, not them.
  • Restricting choices– Allowing them to only paint with a brush, not their fingers, the other end of the brush, a chopstick or other items kills creativity. Telling them to play outside but not get dirty kills creativity. Play should be play.
  • Being Bossy– Stop being a dictator. Creativity is best fostered in freedom of space and not from being told this is how you must do it. Should and must are two different words.

The feedback given by adults can either boost or limit children’s imagination.

Even though you may not be able to stop your child’s school from funneling their art funds into a new math text books, there are ways you can work with your child to boost their creativity and stop limiting their imaginations.

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Rewire Your Brain

Adults can become set in their ways of thinking. Like thinking video games are bad and today’s music will never match up to that of yesterday. Out-dated ideas. In order to foster your child’s creativity, it may require a rewiring of your own brain and ways of thinking. Stop yourself from running on autopilot and praising the product, rather than the process. That sky may not be blue, but it took your child a long time and hard work to create it. Before you condemn that computer time, realize that digital art is as creative as drawing with pencils and ink.

Realize Your World is Not Their World

Stop trying to make your children see the world as you see it. Your judgements, your viewpoints belong to you. You’ve had numerous years and experiences to base them upon and with which to measure them. Your child has a short span of experiences. Children have the ability to use their imaginations better than adults because they aren’t tainted by time and judged against the massive amount of data that adult-brains collect. Allow your child the freedom to use their own senses for themselves, unbiased by your suggestions.

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Provide your child with the tools, space and time to help foster their creativity. Watch out for those creative busters, like helicopter parenting and dictatorial decrees. Try not to inadvertently crush their creativity, even if that means rewiring your own ways of thought. Work with your child’s creative process, not against it. You never know, you may be raising the next big innovator.

Stop Criticizing their Work

You may believe constructive criticism helps, when you believe their clay bunny should have longer ears, but you are crushing their creativity. The rewards are in the process, whether they come out looking like a rabbit or resemble a melted lump with eyes. When they began, they may have envisioned their masterpiece in their mind, but it is the process that exercises creativity, not the outcome. They will learn more from their own trial and errors- like those long bunny ears needing support, than if you just tell them.

Don’t Interfere with Their Creative Process

Don’t get in the way of their play. When they add a bucket of water to that pile of dirt and start squishing their hands through it, bite your tongue. When they set their paintbrush aside and dip their fingers straight into the paint and start coloring their paper with thumbprints, twist your hands behind your back and close your mouth. You are witnessing imagination at work. Remember, you can hose them down and wash those hands afterwards.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] Erin Clabough Ph.D. Psychology Today: Travel with Your Kids for Creativity’s Sake

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Sally White

writer, artist & blogger

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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