Creativity is one of the all-important life skills that your kid will need to succeed in the 21st century. But it’s more than just the ability to create unique things or come up with innovative ideas. It’s the ability that helps us solve problems in a creative manner by making connections between unrelated concepts. Creativity also helps us live a more interesting and fulfilling life, even when we are alone.
Since nurturing creativity in our kids takes time, patience and open-mindedness, we often subconsciously “sabotage” our kids by not giving them the space and support they need to be creative. Here are some common ways that you might be stifling your kid’s creativity and what you can do to change that:
Not letting your kid get bored
You over plan their schedule right down to the smallest detail and when time is a scarcity, you give them gadgets to keep them quiet.
Instead of planning what your kid should do every day, why not give them the freedom to be bored and come up with ways to entertain themselves instead? Boredom stimulates creativity and when your kid is given the opportunity to occupy and succeeds in doing so, it boosts their self-esteem, confidence and ultimately risk-taking appetite.
Discouraging your kid from asking questions
It’s a common parenting hazard. Your kids ask way too many questions and you are too tired to handle them. You lose your patience and over time, your kid will learn that asking questions will just incur your wrath and they stop doing it.
Questions are your kid’s way of finding out about the world around them. When you stifle your kid’s curiosity, you might hamper their learning and possibly close the door on their inclination to be creative. Look at it as an opportunity to teach them various things about the world. Go down to their eye level and discuss the question in depth. If it’s a question that you don’t know the answer to, then go right ahead to discover it together as a family! It’s the perfect occasion to bond as parent and child.
We get that it’s frustrating when kids ask incessant questions at bad timings so don’t feel guilty about postponing it to a later time. Come up with general guidelines on how to handle questions when you are too tired or busy, but make sure to follow it up with Junior later!
Discouraging your kid’s creative ideas
Sometimes your kids come up with the most ludicrous of ideas that seem illogical to your adult mind. To prevent them from making a mess and driving you up the wall, you tell your kids their ideas are a no-go and to do it ‘your way’ instead.
The point of creativity is to think outside the box and if you prevent them from doing that, you are stifling your child’s ability to take risks and making them afraid of failure. Consider setting aside an area at home where they can trash at will (and easy to clean up later) in an exploration of their ideas. You might even want to put on your play clothes and join in the fun! Remember to stock up on creative tools like drawing paper, crayons, pencils etc so your kid can start creating to their heart’s desire.
You expect your kid to measure up to your sky high expectations because how would they improve otherwise? Every single piece of homework has to be done well and if your kid couldn’t manage it, you step in to “lend a hand” (aka doing their homework for them).
Remember how discouraged you felt when you couldn’t “measure up” to someone’s idea of perfection? We all like to think we know better than our kids, but creativity cannot be nurtured based on someone’s idea of perfection alone. Your kid has to be allowed the freedom to explore. How would they know how to innovate and think out of the box otherwise? If every answer came from the parent, then your kid would no longer feel the need to come up with creative solutions. Don’t be that parent who has all the answers, give your kid the space and support they need to make a mess or fail.
After all as Bram Stoker (best known for his 1897 Gothic novel Dracula) said, “We learn from failure, not from success.”
Of course, aside from your own efforts, the school plays an important part as well. For example, you’d want to choose a school that has a nurturing environment that boosts your kid’s creativity instead of stifling it. The Canadian International School (CIS), for instance, has a robust arts programme that adopts a two-pronged approach to teaching arts: curricular/classroom experience and extracurricular activities like theatre productions. Sounds intriguing? Then don’t forget to check it out as you consider your list of international schools in Singapore!