Apart from focusing on academic skills, it is also important to allow room for your kids to develop their creativity.
It is widely assumed that creativity is a talent that kids are born with, but turns out, it is a skill which parents can help their kids develop as they grow up. Not limited to artistic and musical expression, creativity is an essential stepping stone that drives your child’s success in school and one which develops their social and emotional intelligence.
According to Adam Grant, a professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in order to raise creative kids, it is essential that parents encourage their kids to think for themselves and foster an identity that “I am somebody who doesn’t follow the crowd.”
Grant offers the following scientifically-proven strategies to help parents raise creative kids:
1. Praise your child, not the act
How should you praise your child when he/she proudly presents his/her artwork to you? Do you direct your praises to the artwork or do you acknowledge their creative abilities?
When faced with the same situation, Grant would tell his daughter what a creative person she is, as this act helps to develop in her a sense of self as a creative person with unique ideas. He explained that while is it natural for parents to reinforce the behaviour, it is important that they help their children see that said behaviour is a core part of who they are so that they don’t lose creativity when they grow up.
“When our character is praised, we internalise it as part of our identities,” Grant writes in his book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.
Research has also found that when children are praised for who they are rather than what they have done, they tend to display positive traits more often.
2. Keep rules minimal
Studies conducted by the Boston College has revealed that there were vast differences between families of highly original children and those with ordinary ability children when it comes to rules. While the latter had an average of six rules that govern their children’s daily routine (e.g. set times for bed or homework), the former lived by with an average of less than one rule.
Although rules help to set boundaries to get children to think creatively, Grant explains that they tend to “encourage” children to stick to the familiarity of their comfort zone – especially when it comes to solving problems.
“If you want your kids to follow rules, then it’s much more likely that when it comes time to solve a problem, he/she looks to how it’s been solved before – what are the conventional ways to doing it – as opposed to saying, ‘Well, how can I approach this? What other solutions haven’t been come up with before?’”
The key here is to keep a balanced ground when it comes to setting rules for children. Lay out the necessary rules to set boundaries to their behaviour but do allow room for them to explore other options and possibilities, as they learn to make sense of how things work in life.
Parents of highly creative children use reasoning to develop their thinking skills and creativity. More on this and some helpful resources to help you nurture your child’s creative mind on the next page.