Children don’t know real answers to the questions that pop up in their heads. It is amazing how they whip up logic from their imaginations. When you ask a 4 years old child to tell you a story, in all likelihood, you will get to hear an absolutely absurd but extraordinarily original story. They don’t fear being judged and they are not concerned about rewards. That’s the magic of creativity that all children are born with.
However, all that is lost somewhere along the way. The results are alarming:
- Children around the age of 8-9 years start behaving in more structured and reality-based manner.
- Their drawings start losing the fanciful charm of it and instead are more matter-of-fact.
- They don’t want to venture out of their comfort zones and just want to complete their tasks as per the rules.
Creativity starts taking a backseat slowly and steadily as your child starts school. What could be the reason for that? Surely he did not lose it on the first day of school.
All this happens through the initial years of the school itself when the school and you also as a parent start expecting them to follow the rules and fit in. Suddenly the results start mattering much more than the process of achieving it. When the fear of failing or not doing correctly is much more than enjoying the process of trying, creativity dies a slow death. We are all looking for right answers instead of encouraging more questions. We reward the children for following the rules and we punish them for making a mistake. Children always answer as per teacher’s expectations and never want to try an alternative.
Television has a big role to play in curbing the real creative and inquisitive nature of children. Apart from health and mental issues like obesity and aggression, these gadgets affect their imagination and natural instincts. Instead of making something on their own they want to follow the instructions of the show presenter to make something creative. Children who watch television a lot develop problems like sleep deprivation and attention disorder. Besides more time spent in front of television means that the child is having less time for playing or doing some activity. They get comfortable sitting and doing nothing. Outdoor play and socialising is an effort and they become averse to it. No wonder they stop exploring and experimenting.
How to nurture creativity?
Let them be
Give them the independence they seek. When they scribble something ineligible and call it a storm, accept it. Don’t correct them and say it’s just a scribble. Encourage them to see shapes and figures in the clouds. Let them dream. Praise ingenious thinking. Make your child feel that he is secure and it’s alright to be himself, to think and feel freely.
Encourage outdoor play
When your child plays outside, it gives him the opportunity to have an adventure and explore the natural surroundings. Physical activities such as running, jumping, throwing are not only beneficial for his physical health being but also for his mental health. It is proven now that playing in open green spaces regularly enhances the ability to concentrate. Free play encourages children to invent games – hopping like a frog, playing the gardener or any other pretend play.
As a parent, you are the first role model for your child. You set that example by doing what you like to do and chances are that he will also enjoy following his own interests and passions. Show him how you take out time to learn French or play Guitar, in spite of your busy schedule. Show him the pros of following your heart. That said, don’t force your likes on him. A musician’s child may not necessarily appreciate sounds and songs. He may be good at sports or arts. In the early years, cast the net wide. Let him lay his hands on every field. He will automatically show more inclination towards one subject and that can be encouraged further.
Accept as is
Every child is different. So respect your child for his uniqueness and always believe in his capabilities. This builds his confidence and he is able to take risks. Is he different from the rest of the class? Don’t whip him and force him to fall in line. Teach your child to behave as per the values and not as per the rules. Rules suffocate the creativity. Value-based behaviour will make the creativity flourish.
Don’t rank your children
Their work is their own. Let them be independent and don’t fret about the results. Take pride in how they are doing it and not the position they are achieving. your child may come last in the race as far the school results are concerned. However, he or she may develop a rare skill in the long run. Integrity, imagination, and sincerity are much more important than the high grades achieved by rote learning methods.
Never discourage questions
Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special gift, I am only passionately curious.” Acknowledge and appreciate your child’s curiosity, encourage his inquisitiveness so that he is not shy of doing something out-of-the-box. When children are small, they ask why for everything. Unknowingly, we snap at them for asking too many questions. We need a break from the never-ending quizzes. We don’t realise how we subtly kill the curiosity bug and clip their wings before they fly.
The bottom line
Go back in time and nurture your child through old-school values. Shut the screens and encourage free-play. Don’t pack his schedule with activities. Let him enjoy his alone time and ponder about his interests.
Children are inherently creative. We rip it off somewhere along the way. It is high time we acknowledge the parenting errors and take a corrective course of action. Let’s not suffocate our children with rules; let creativity flourish freely.