What Kills Creativity in Kids?

What Kills Creativity in Kids?

Education November 10, 2016 / By Joanne Foster, EdD
What Kills Creativity in Kids?

Creativity is a choice—and if children are going to choose to be creative then parents have to be careful not to stifle it. What kills kids’ creativity? Here’s what to avoid.

Ten creativity squelchers are listed below. Parents who catch themselves inadvertently being an accessory to any of these ten inhibitors can take stock of their actions, otherwise they risk suppressing their child’s creative expression. (Fear not. Each point below is followed by a practical suggestion that parents can use as a starting point to foster children’s creativity.) In addition, sometimes kids lack something—such as preparation, downtime, or incentive—and concerns like these are noted as well. 

1. SCRUTINY – Hovering and excessive inquiry can be detrimental and off-putting.  No one likes it when others constantly peer over their shoulders. 

Foster Creativity: Give kids ample time and space. Quiet interludes, respectful privacy, and a show of confidence about what they can do without watchdogs can help kids feel energized. 

2. RIGIDITY – Sometimes parents set constraints, or exhibit close-mindedness in relation to children’s efforts or choices. When this happens, children are less likely to be open to possibility and to engage in creative pursuits. 

Foster Creativity: Be flexibly responsive to children’s interests, frivolity, spontaneity, and enthusiasms. Think before saying, “No” or “Don’t” or “You must.”

3. IMPATIENCE – Do you push too hard? Creativity can be slow to take root, develop, blossom, and then come to fruition. 

Foster Creativity: Think of creative expression as a quest that requires time, effort, and patience. Rushing kids can be counterproductive. 

4. DOUBT – Children can sense when their parents lack faith in them, or are pessimistic about their capabilities. 

Foster Creativity: Be optimistic, and convey a positive outlook, even when a situation seems trying. If you’re upbeat, children will be encouraged. 

5. ISOLATION – Some kids enjoy working independently, and many actually prefer a peaceful spot to a crowded noisy one—but a solitary milieu can also be a potentially lonely and unproductive place. 

Foster Creativity: Encourage kids to connect with friends and helpful others who can offer them support, inspiration, and opportunities for meaningful collaboration.

6. FATIGUE – It’s tough for children to be creative if they’re weary. When people are tired they have difficulty focusing and getting down to task. 

Foster Creativity: Help children appreciate the importance of rest, a good night’s sleep, and a balanced way of life. 

7. INDIFFERENCE – Apathy and detachment are downers. Without a sense of purpose it’s hard to spark creativity. 

Foster Creativity: Generating excitement, curiosity, and enthusiasm about something can inspire children to test-drive their creativity and push onward.  Help them cultivate a sense of wonder about the world around them—and beyond.  

8. LITTLE OR NO PROGRESS – Feeling as if you’re just standing still and going nowhere is discouraging.

Foster Creativity: It’s beneficial when a child experiences some success. Offer constructive reinforcement, or perhaps some foundational information, or evidence of headway. This can be motivating, and springboard creativity.

9.UNFAIR EXPECTATIONS – Goals that are not manageable or attainable are not enticing. Out of reach, out of mind.  

Foster Creativity: Keep it reasonable. Let children have a hand in setting sensible, relevant, appropriately challenging, and achievable objectives for themselves. 

10. COMPLEXITY - Lighting too many fires at once can be detrimental. Kids who have to juggle too much at once often become overwhelmed or immobilized. 

Foster Creativity: Simplicity is often a key to getting things done. (Not so easy as to be boring, but not too hard either.) Help kids find that comfort zone wherein they feel self-assured and creatively inclined. 

And Finally…  What’s Lacking?

Creativity can be jeopardized by factors specific to an individual, including a lack of what he or she needs. That lack might be difficult to pinpoint because different children have different needs. For example, kids may lack support, choice, solid work habits, familiar routines, models and inspiration, or a competitive edge. Any or all of those factors can affect a child’s creativity.

Consider what your child requires in order to be happily productive and creative, and move on from there. So, for instance, if your child lacks preparation, try co-creating a step-by step plan, sourcing information, or reviewing instructional material. If your child lacks downtime, ensure that there are ample intervals set aside for breaks, fresh air, playtime, and exercise. If your child lacks incentive, why not incorporate music, art, or dramatic elements into activities? Or try injecting some fun, suspense, mystery, or controversy. Fueling creative expression in ways that personally matter or intrigue children will motivate them! 

Although creativity can be jeopardized by the 10 points listed—as well as others that are specific to what a child lacks—parents can watch out for all of the above-mentioned creativity crushers, and resolve to work through them by being supportive of their child’s efforts and individual needs. 

Additional Resources  

Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster; Being Smart about Gifted Education: A Guidebook for Educators and Parents by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster.  Or visit the authors’ website at www.beyondintelligence.net 

Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire, TarcherPerigee, 2015. 

What Drives Children’s Creativity?” as described by author Joanne Foster and artist Rina Gottesman at The Creativity Post 

Three Ways to Support Children’s Intelligence and Creativity: What To Strive for When Life’s a Whirlwind” at The Creativity Post 

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