Are you nurturing creative minds in your children? Here’s why you should be.
My children occupy a large portion of my thoughts – their health and development, their creative minds and emotional needs, and of course, their education…
What do they need to learn from me before they grow up?
What really matters?
What’s important to teach?
I’m sure many of you know what I mean. We all recognize the need to teach our kids how to count, to write, and to read, but we often blindly trust that good habits of mind – the ones that lead to a truly positive relationship with life – will come naturally without effort or active learning.
However, it’s not always so.
A good chunk of our education in life comes from seeds planted in our minds at the right time by the right people.
We can’t control how our children think, learn, and remember, but we do have a lot of say in creating a nurturing home environment and bringing particular topics to our children’s attention that help them grow into creative, balanced, and inspired adults.
Seeds take a long time to grow. It might seem overwhelming at the start. But the mere act of planting sets into motion something that can have a positive cascading effect throughout their whole lives. When a seed turns into a flower, everyone recognizes its beauty. With this in mind, here are five great places to start.
Nurturing Creative Minds
1. Nurturing Creative Minds Through Persisting
In today’s society, most people are rushed, impatient, and expecting immediate results. That’s also true when it comes to our children.
The good news about raising persistent kids, though? It’s a lot easier than you think.
The place to start is getting across to your kids the idea that there is nothing wrong with being uncomfortable. As T. Harv Eker, the author of The Billionaire Mind, said, “Nobody ever died of discomfort, yet living in the name of comfort has killed more ideas, more opportunities, more actions, and more growth than everything else combined.”
Most people have very little tolerance for events and developments that don’t fit their expectations, routines, and habits. When they give something new a try, and it doesn’t work, it’s over. But success in life rarely comes without significant effort.
Persisting – sustaining the effort and problem-solving despite setbacks – comes from being ok with being uncomfortable. Also, reward persisting, offer encouragement when the going gets tough, and provide your child with multiple opportunities to practice. Just as they say, practice makes perfect, and even though, the results are never guaranteed, anything worth having is worth working for.
2. Raising Flexible Thinkers
I don’t know where you live and what kind of life you have, but I know one thing about you: the degree of flexibility in your thinking plays a major role in your happiness and creativity.
Flexible thinking is what allows you to move on when things don’t go your way. It’s what gives you the power to switch gears when a day is escalating out of control. It’s what you use when your old microwave breaks and the new one looks like it came out of a Star Wars cockpit, and now you have to unlearn the old ways of doing things and study a one-hundred-page manual just to make some Mac-n’-cheese.
Unless we live in an artificially controlled environment, we can’t escape the unplanned, the unexpected, the disappointments of everyday life, and it’s ok. Our brain is truly amazing, and flexibility is one of the remarkable features of our brain function if we choose to employ it.
Even very young children respond well to flexibility training, and there are many ways you can play an active role in encouraging your kids to be flexible thinkers and learners. Point out the instances when they are already successful in adapting to situational demands, tell them not to worry when they run into an obstacle, help them to widen their repertoire of strategies for making compromises, and guide your kids toward alternative solutions when they are solving problems. The ability to look at things differently leads to more creativity, effective problem solving, and peace of mind.
3. Communicating with Clarity
In today’s society, communication skills are directly related to your wealth, health, and general success in life. Why? Because not only are communication skills the most sought after quality in job candidates, but research shows that lack of them leads to conflict, missed opportunities, misunderstanding, frustration, and even anger at work and in personal relationships. None of the things we want for our kids, right?
You likely know instinctively that being able to express how you feel and share your creative ideas in an articulate way fills your soul. But how much time do we spend in life actively learning how to communicate with clarity?
Why do we expect communication skills to come from simply living?
We all have ideas worth sharing, and there are better ways to share them. Research on communication tends to focus on listening skills, clarity of expression, and empathy.
However, my favorite aspects of communication are the ones pioneered by Dale Carnegie and Marshall Rosenberg. They focus on getting right to the point, knowing what to say and how to say it: poise and confidence (Carnegie), and communication without judgment (Rosenberg). These are the skills that will ensure your kids can stand up for their values when challenged, contribute their voice to important discussions, and bring clarity to disagreements.
4. Managing Impulsivity
If you studied child development in college for any length of time, you’re probably very familiar with the now classic Stanford Marshmallow Test. In this experiment, young children were offered one marshmallow right away or two marshmallows after a wait period. Once kids were presented with this choice, the researchers left the room for fifteen minutes. Not surprisingly, researchers found out that kids who were able to delay gratification had better life outcomes. Years later, they were happier, more educated, more satisfied with life, earned more money, and were even in better physical shape.
How can we help our kids put mental breaks in place?
Start by explaining to your child what impulsivity is and isn’t. Any behavior they are not aware of is harder to manage. Ask them what it would be like to get on a bike without breaks and ride it down a hill. Is it a good idea? Is it safe? Is it wise?
Also, energetically praise the instances when your child acts with poise and control. You can even purposefully put your child in situations where they are likely to curb their impulsivity. It will give you an extra chance to point out their success and convince them that they already have all the tools they need to respond gracefully and thoughtfully to whatever life throws at them.
5. Creating, Imagining, and Innovating
We’re all born creative. Providing yourself and your kids with the time and resources to be creative allows you to come alive. So…
- Get messy.
- Do something creative every day.
- Resist the urge to be critical and judgmental.
- Experiment with different mediums.
- Celebrate creativeness and spend time nurturing creative minds.
- Try something you haven’t tried before (i.e., hold the paintbrush with your toes)
- Take online classes to learn to paint, play musical instruments, dance, photograph, sew, or sculpt.
Nothing is more natural than wanting our children to have beautiful lives steeped in creativity, fulfillment, and inspiration. By planting the right seeds at the right time, we will be nurturing creative minds in our children and helping them develop good habits for life.