Creativity is a highly prized and sought after human ability. Children are, by nature, wonderfully creative creatures. But unless that creativity is encouraged, much of a person’s capacity for rich, innovative ideas will be lost by the age of eight.
For today’s parents, nurturing creativity is a top priority. Studies show that highly creative people grow up in homes that value and cultivate creativity. In fact, family is the primary force behind creative behavior.
Here are eight characteristics of highly creative families.
- Independence. In highly creative families, there’s a tendency to stress freedom and autonomy. At an early age, children are given unusual freedom to make their own decisions and explore their world. There’s an extraordinary expectation that the child will choose and act responsibly.
- An enriched learning environment. Children are provided with a variety of artistic supplies, tools, and raw materials. They’re encouraged to be self dependent; to pursue independent projects and to problem solve. Imagination, divergent thinking, and deferred judgment are family values.
- Nix the rules. Highly creative families use values to manage behaviors rather than rules or discipline. Self discipline replaces an outside imposed discipline. If there are rules, they usually deal with how we treat people and animals.
- Respect for the child. These parents show a high level of support and awareness for their child. In studies involving highly creative adolescents, parents were very interested in their children’s behavior but rarely intervened with rules.
- Children are encouraged to take risks, explore, and embrace new experiences.
- The value of being different. The highly creative family sees being different as an advantage and encourages each child to embrace individuality.
- Humor. Highly creative families have fun. Regular family interactions include humor.
- Intrinsic motivation. Children are motivated by internal rewards such as joy and satisfaction rather than extrinsic motivation which involves outside rewards or to avoid punishment.
Every child has something special to give. If we want super-creative kids, we might want to loosen the reins a bit. Maybe we could rethink some of the conventional wisdom and celebrate the unique creative gifts of each child.
K.J. Larsen’s Cat DeLuca Mysteries, are published by Poisoned Pen Press. Larsens’ debut novel, Liar Liar, was awarded Library Journals Best Mystery, 2010. Liar, Liar, Sticks and Stones, and Some Like It Hot are available at the Seattle Mystery Bookstore and on Amazon. Cat’s fourth adventure, Bye Bye, Love, was released April 2015 and is available now.