Creativity – How to Raise a Child You Want to Meet in 25 Years

Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. 

Mary Lou Cook

Parenting now includes ‘cruise director’ to the ever-growing list of required skill sets. Buying highly rated educational toys, enrolling babies and toddlers in music, art and dance programs are must do activities to ensure our children are creative.

Children don’t need things to be creative; they are all born naturally creative. This was proven in 1968. Dr. George Land took 1,600 five–year-olds and gave them a creativity test used by NASA to select innovative engineers and scientists. He retested the same children at age ten and again at age fifteen. What he found was that 98% of the children at five years old tested in the genius level category of creativity. The percentage at age ten dropped to 30%, and at fifteen, the test results dropped to 12%. The same test was given to 280,000 adults; 2% were in the genius level category. Dr. Land concluded that non–creative behavior is learned. We’re all given the gift of creativity; we have to work to keep it.

Creativity is one of the most desired qualities for a CEO because in its highest form, creativity is about problem solving. This is best illustrated by Einstein’s own response to his discovery:

“When I ask myself how it happened that I in particular discovered the Relativity Theory, it seems to lie in the following circumstance. The normal adult never bothers his head of space-time problems. Everything there is to be thought about, in his opinion, has been done in early childhood. I, on the contrary, developed so slowly that I only began to wonder about space and time when I was already grown up. In consequence, I poked deeper into the problem than any ordinary child would.”

What parents can do:

Recognize that boredom is good.  In our ‘cruise director’ role, we need to fill every moment with an activity, play date or some form of distraction.  But boredom is a good thing.  You don’t have to figure out what they need to do, just tell them screen time of any kind of off limits.  You may consider giving them a household problem to solve.  Since we don’t often do this, you may have to ease it in.  Consider ‘book end’ blocks of time with structured play, starting with shorter times at first. Let kids know what to expect, play for 20 minutes, and then I will call you to help fold the laundry.

Designate a play space and remember, one man’s trash is another’s treasure:  Don’t toss old hats or jewelry. Instead create a costume box and buy an inexpensive door mirror.  We did this and family parties always lead to dress up with kids and adults.  The same is true for oatmeal containers, tissue boxes and the most treasured gift of all – a large cardboard box!  Keep it simple and don’t worry about creating a ‘pinterest’ worthy space.  While that impresses other parents, it does nothing for kids.

Appreciate, but don’t reward creativity.   You want to build their confidence and encourage creativity,  but rewarding them isn’t the way to do it; in fact it has the opposite effect.

Don’t manage the activity.  You may build the fort differently, but not necessarily better.  Ask them to explain what they’ve done and how it works.  Very often, they will invent something new.

Change up the routine. If you always drive to complete errands, consider taking public transportation instead.  Kids LOVE simple changes in routine, especially when they are active participants like putting in the bus fare.

Help kids pursue their passions. Pay attention to your child’s interests and make these materials and activities available to them.  If they love taking pictures, consider a trip to the library to find books on the topic or take a trip to a gallery.

Take the time for your own creativity. Kids learn best from watching you.

Now that school is out, summer is a perfect time to start a new habit!  Be on the lookout each day this week for more creativity tips on Parental Wisdom’s Facebook page.

Thanks and have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Mom & Founder

Parental Wisdom®

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