Creativity Killers

Creativity Killers 

Avoid killing the creative instinct in your child!

Creativity is a characteristic that parents hope to nourish in their children. We are all born innately curious and creative. Creativity helps us develop our intelligence,enhance the ability to problem solve, spark new and innovative ideas and bring fulfillment and joy into our lives. Humans, though are also competitive and this trait has been blamed for extinquishing that creative spark in children.

Teresa Annabile, Ph.D., a professor at Brandeis University cites in her book TheCreative Instinct, four ways parents efforts enhancing creativity may backfire.

4 Common Creativity Inhibitors

  1. EvaluationSimply expecting evaluation can deter creativity, even if the outcome is positive. Children should focus on the process, not on how their work is going to be judged. Evaluation is necessary in most areas in our lives,but if presented continual to young children it can restrict creativity.
  2. RewardMost believe that rewarding a behavior will improve that behavior.But this is not always the case in the creative process. For tasks that are straight forward, reward does help children perform faster and better. For problem solving and creative insight offering rewards can stifle the imagination. It has been shown that a lack of stimulation and praise can inhibit creativity, but excessive stimulation and praise can desensitize intrinsic motivation and deaden creativity.
  3. CompetitionCompetition encompasses both reward and evaluation.Unbridled competition is often uncalled for in creative activities.Remember it is the process not the product that rewards children!
  4. Restriction of ChoiceMost artist and scientists agree that to truly learn and be creative one cannot be restricted or forced. This does not mean that parents should not set boundaries with children's behaviors and choices.A framework for choice and behaviors is always the best way to instill positive creative exploration.

So what can parents do to avoid creativity killers. We need to teach children stability and predictability  as well as the ability to fail without discouragement.Often parents push children into areas where their child has little interest. The key is to find out where interest and skills overlap. Not all children's gifts and interestare apparent. Parents that encourage children to experiment with different skills set are correct. Children are wired to be parent pleasers and often stick with an area of interest to please parents rather than what they really want to do. It can befun, but hard work for some to find out that special area of interest your child desires. Here are some ways parents can encourage creativity.

10 Creativity Boosters

  1. Encourage independence. Let them color outside the box.
  2. Do not micromanage play.
  3. Encourage children to discover solutions on their own.
  4. Allow your child to fail. It's okay, they will get over faster than you.
  5. Avoid enrolling preschoolers in competitive activities.
  6. Keep the learning evironment fun.
  7. Engage children to use their 5 senses in learning.
  8. Be a role model, engage in stimulating experiences.
  9. Teach children to respect differences in people.
  10. Respect your child as a unique individual.

As parents learn to appreciate the differences in each of their children, they willbecome more aware of what is special about each child. To foster a child's creativity youmust first understand his uniqueness and allow him to learn the possibilites of how herelates to the world. Encouraging your child to take creative risks, to explore interests,and to engage in the joy of learning will propel the internal spark call CREATIVITY.

Lyssa Harvey, is a teacher, therapist and artist. She owns The Art and PlayTherapy Center of South Carolina. Her private practice at this center includescounseling with children, adolescents, and their parents. She works with children withADHD, abuse issues, behavior problems and issues related to divorce. Mrs. Harvey haspresented trainings at State and National conferences on using Art, Play and Creativity in counseling.

By Lyssa Harvey, Ed.S Licensed Professional Counselor Art and Play Therapist