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
“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.
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.
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.
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
|||^||Erin Clabough Ph.D. Psychology Today: Travel with Your Kids for Creativity’s Sake|