Surviving and Thriving in a Rapidly Changing World
Nine suggestions for encouraging your child’s creativity and your own.
Posted October 17, 2019
As with intelligence, there’s a popular misconception that some people are born more naturally creative than others. But most experts now see creativity as a dynamic attitude and a valuable human activity, not a mystical, innate, or exclusive quality of a person.
Also, as with intelligence, some temperaments lend themselves more easily to creative activities than others. Some children are born more open to experience, people, and change than others. They find it easier to approach the activities in their life with an open and flexible mind, often appearing to be more creative than others. That doesn’t mean that the child who is timid and resists new experience is less creative, but it does mean they’ll need more support in overcoming their resistance if they’re going to find the joy, sparkle, and confidence that comes from creative engagement in their activities.
I’ve gathered here suggestions from many different traditions—psychological, educational, medical, and spiritual—to create a list of ideas you can implement today to help you and your child tap into your creativity.
How to Nurture Your Child’s Creativity
1. Slow it down. Make sure your child has all the time they need for unstructured play, for do-nothing times, outdoor play, daydreaming, and dawdling. If that means pushing back against extracurriculars and homework, do it. Your child’s health and happiness depend on it, as does the future of the planet.
2. Listen to your child’s interests, and support their passions. Ask questions. Help them take it farther, supporting them in developing their curiosities and interests into abilities.
3. Encourage persistence, patience, and hard work. When patience, persistence, and hard work become habits of mind—which happens with practice—interests become abilities, which become strengths. And that is the source of intelligence, creativity, and genius.
4. Help your child grow each of the four aspects of creativity, in balance: knowledge, divergent thinking, critical thinking, and communication skills.
5. Model in your own life these ten decisions for creativity: (i) redefine problems; (ii) analyze your ideas; (iii) sell your ideas; (iv) remember that knowledge is a double-edged sword; (v) surmount obstacles; (vi) take sensible risks; (vii) keep growing; (viii) believe in yourself; (ix) tolerate ambiguity; and (x) find what you love to do, and do it. Help your child apply these ten decisions in their life.
6. Increase your child’s possibilities for flow experiences. Support them in activities that have clearly defined goals (both short-term and long-term), that provide clear and immediate feedback, and where the level of challenge matches their perception of their abilities.
7. Nurture and support your child’s curiosity. Welcome your child’s questions, and find the answers together. Celebrate their explorations and discoveries.
8. Encourage your child’s sense of wonder at the ordinary. Take time to help your child savour the haunting sound of the wind in the trees, the satisfying ooziness of sand between the toes, the surprisingly loud crunch of their boots on a silent winter day, the sweet, tart, citrussy taste of golden raisins.
9. Give your child opportunities for creative self-expression. Support your child in expressing themselves openly and without judgment, in whatever medium is close to hand or most appealing to them. Whether it’s writing, painting, drama, role-playing, music, puppetry, or dance, help your child find the light in the darkness they may be experiencing. Once they’ve completed their work, listen to what they tell you, and help them move toward healthy, confident resilience.
At this time of widespread and well-justified fears for the survival of the planet, we need creativity more than ever. We each need to do our part in nurturing our own positive attitudes and creativity, and also to do everything we can to ensure we are raising a generation of children who can tap into their creativity in solving the problems of surviving and thriving.
"Creativity as a Wellness Practice," by Cathy Malchiodi
"Creativity is More than Just Coming Up with Ideas," by Zorana Ivcevic Pringle
"Creativity's Monsters: Making Friends with Complexity," by Lisa Rivero