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Children's Creativity : Tips For Encouraging Creativity In Children

Five Tips For Encouraging Creativity In Children

By Tyler Enfield

It's a common dream, shared by parents across the globe: To watch their child become the next Mozart, Shakespeare, Da Vinci, or Proust. But what exactly does it take to shape a child prodigy? And just as importantly: Is it even our job?

Both questions are worth exploring. In fact experts encourage all parents, wherever they stand on the matter, to take up similar questions — even revisiting them, frequently if need be, to address the evolving needs of their child's development.

Right now, there are numerous schools of thought promoting the need for advanced academic structure in early childhood. Because the young mind is so rich an environment, many theories maintain that we should, very early in their development, introduce children to much of what has been traditionally reserved for the elementary school years. And perhaps we should. Perhaps children do benefit from a rigorous dose of early arts and literature. Who's to say, when the nature of these questions defy measurement?

But what if the goal of our parenting wasn't to produce genius? What if enjoyment of the arts is what we sought to promote — enjoyment quite possibly being the foundation for all creative talent.

I would suggest that parental encouragement, even more than guidance, is what young children benefit from most. That every child is born of creativity, and with proper support, can come to value creativity as a powerful, lifelong resource — arguably the most important resource in an age of fast-paced change and uncertainty.

As you reflect upon how best to promote your child's innate creativity, consider the following five tips. Let them guide you in your own exploration, and perhaps inspire tips of your own.

1. Creativity is not a pastime. It's an essential part of who we are, finding countless expressions in our life each day. Therefore, support your child in their creative endeavours. Let them know that you value their creativity, and help them grow and explore by modeling creativity yourself.

2. Withhold judgment. You may wish to help through critique, but creativity flourishes in a non-evaluative atmosphere. Despite personal preferences, you can show respect for each of your child's creations, recognizing that everything they express comes from a part of themselves, and is therefore worthy of your love and attention.

3. No surveillance. Hovering over a child, however good our intentions, has been proven to stifle their creative juices. Instead, create a safe environment where they can explore creativity on their own. You may be amazed at what your child comes up with, without help of any kind.

4. Offer guidance sparingly. They will receive more than enough throughout their lives. And constant reminders to improve themselves can undermine a child's self-esteem, sending out the unintended message: You need to change. You aren't good enough as you are. Remember, we don't always need to teach our kids to be better. Just encourage them to be themselves.

5. Cultivate originality. Let your child know how great it is to be different, and that they bring something unique to this world. The greatest innovators have always been those who thought differently from the rest. Here's a brief list of famous people who owe their success to creativity, each of them renowned for thinking outside the box:

a. Bill Gates
b. Albert Einstein
c. The Wright Brothers
d. Pablo Picasso
e. J.K. Rowling
f. Al Gore
g. John Lennon
h. Nikola Tesla
i. Frank Lloyd Wright
j. Thomas Edison
k. Mark Twain
l. (Insert your child's name here!)

Some of the above material summarized from Goleman, Kaufman, and Ray (1992)

© 2010 Tyler Enfield. All rights reserved.

Tyler Enfield is the afounding instructor of The Tinderbox: A Creativity Experience (TheTinderbox.ca) which he presents to elementary schools.

5/28/10