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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 March 22, 2019

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

When we talk about happiness, we think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity.  We try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as our goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from us.

But what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?  It’s like your favorite food.  The more you have of it doesn’t always mean the better.  On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite of it.  So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

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We should always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

Video Summary

Assuming others are always happy is the biggest misunderstanding of happiness.

Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time.  Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales.  On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives (including ourselves).  So it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

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In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

No one has a perfect life.  Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires, everyone has their own set of challenges and problems.

When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve.  As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time.  During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals.  But I got through them, and weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.   Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

Stop trying to be happy. Just be.

It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.  So what can we do?  First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness.  Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect.  It’s from experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing the same trials.  If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize.  If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.  It sounds like a paradox.  What I mean is, accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life.  Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

Understand the importance of gratitude.  Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment right now, flash back your memory to when you had or didn’t have something.  I like to think about my career, for example.  When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated.  I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me.  But when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful!  This memory keeps me going when there are tough spots.  It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

Happiness and sadness exist together

What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments.  Happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories.  But your life will also be filled with rain and storms that don’t ever seem to pass when you’re going through them.

But whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.  Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones.  Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”.  In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements.  Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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