3 Ways to Support Kids’ Intelligence and Creativity:  What to Strive for When Life’s a Whirlwind

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Synopsis

In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, there seem to be fewer opportunities to pause, consider, and fortify some of the basic prerequisites for developing children’s intelligence and creativity. What can parents do?

Let’s cut to the chase. Parents are well-intentioned. They want to encourage their children’s intelligence and creativity. This requires a serious and protracted investment of time and effort. And that may be at a premium given that parents have their own extremely busy lives. Every day is another roller-coaster consisting of events, commitments, transitions, and challenges.  This poses a dilemma. As responsibilities increase, and daily demands spike off the charts, parents still seek to support their children’s well-being and optimal development—because, let’s face it, their children need them. Kids, too, are juggling jam-packed schedules, and myriad activities at home, school, and elsewhere.

In the midst of the often-frenetic whirlwind of daily life, parents may have difficulty reinforcing the supports that are most important if children are going to develop their intelligence and build upon their creative thinking skills.  What, in fact, requires immediate attention?

Here are three essential but straightforward goals that kids can strive toward, along with quotes that families can ponder together, and practical strategies for parents so that they can help kids thrive.

CHILDREN’S GOAL #1 - STRIVE TO BE THE BEST PERSON YOU CAN BE.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no-one thinks of changing himself.” (Quote attributed to Leo Tolstoy)

All children have tremendous capacity for intellectual and creative growth. This accrues over time with opportunities to learn. It helps a lot if people see themselves, and their places in the world, as works in progress. And, that means there’s always room for self-improvement!

As children mature, encourage them to take stock of themselves from time to time, to reflect upon and become accountable for their actions. Personal growth happens when kids make time for what really matters. This includes stretching the intellect, developing coping mechanisms, cultivating interests as they emerge, remembering to be gracious and increasingly mindful of others, and working hard. Integrity, confidence, forgiveness, and empathy enable kids to become caring and competent adults. Parents can help by modeling all of this and sharing the importance, focusing on becoming better, stronger, and kinder people, and empowering children to do likewise.

CHILDREN’S GOAL #2 - STRIVE TO FIND HAPPINESS.

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.”

(Quote attributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Happiness and joy come in many different guises. For some this takes the form of art, or music, or a good book. For others it’s family celebrations, or hugs, or special moments with friends. Or, it may involve pets, or travel, or chocolate, or…? A job well done, and the experiences that occur along the way, can also be satisfying and joyful. Parents can help children find those triggers that will promote pleasurable engagement—and creativity may be one of them!

 Creativity provides new perspectives and avenues for discovery, and helps people meet challenges. It enriches lives. Creative expression also sparks excitement. Being creative is an active and important choice children can learn to make. Help them make it! Encourage children to develop their enthusiasms, to build on knowledge and communicate their ideas, to believe in their capabilities, to ask questions, and to be playful. Show kids that learning, doing, and using the imagination are worthwhile and joyful pursuits.

CHILDREN’S GOAL #3 - STRIVE TO TRIUMPH.

“Tackle, endeavor, surmount!”

 (Quote attributed to Haim Ginott)

Perseverance is a transformative trait. People progress and have a greater chance of succeeding when they see setbacks as opportunities, and when they show resilience instead of giving up. Challenge can be fruitful. Overcoming obstacles can be motivating!

Help children learn to be persistent, to develop solid work habits, and to appreciate the value of effort.  Support children’s autonomy as they grow, and encourage them to become active in decision-making, and problem solving.  Demonstrate ways of coping with changes, risks, uncertainties, and transition times because they are inevitable. Be collaborative. Be resourceful. Find supportive others—family members, teachers, other parents, friends—and work together. And obtain professional advice when it’s required.           

Children flourish when caring adults offer supports and guidance. This means staying attuned to individual needs and feelings, listening and responding to questions and concerns, and encouraging engagement in learning. This is not exactly new. Generations of parents have followed these guidelines, providing safe, nurturing environments and helping children to develop skills, strength of character, and more. What IS new, however, are the fast-paced times we live in—times of extreme “busyness,” technological advances, volatility, and uncertainty. Parents have to make a concerted effort to focus on, and fortify, the basics, and not let them get lost in the sometimes tumultuous and unpredictable whirlwind of day-to-day life. The result of this effort will be children who strive to find—and can attain—1) strengths, 2) happiness, and 3) fulfillment.

For more information, and for additional strategies for supporting children’s optimal development, see Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster (Anansi Press, 2014), and their book Being Smart about Gifted Education (Great Potential Press, 2009). Dr. Foster is also the author of Not Now, Maybe Later (Great Potential Press, 2015). For resources visit http://www.beyondintelligence.net

Additional Resources:

THE NEW FAMILY SITE

For a series of excellent podcasts featuring experts who discuss a range of important topics relating to modern family life, visit Brandie Weikle’s site thenewfamily.com 

 And this is the link to episode #36: Podcast - A New Way of Thinking about Intelligence for a New World

ROOTS OF ACTION

Marilyn Price-Mitchell charts out routes for successful child development using a research-based compass orientation as a framework for action and advocacy. Check out her website at rootsofaction.com

 OPTIMAL DEVELOPMENT ACROSS THE LIFESPAN

Dona Matthews has written several informative articles on children’s and teen’s intellectual and creative development. These can be found HERE 

ABOUT CHILDREN’S CREATIVITY

Here are two articles from The Creativity Post:

What Drives Children’s Creativity?

Why Should Creativity Matter to Kids? What’s the Big Deal?

Tags: creativity, education, inteligence, joanne foster

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