I read an interesting article the other day about creativity, specifically, how to raise creative children. Because I am a mom, I was interested. But I was also interested because I am a creative person. I was a creative child. I actually was voted “Most Creative” in my junior high Magnet program (Magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses or curricula like the GATE program, for “Gifted And Talented Education”). Yes, being voted “Most Creative” is a little bit like being voted “Best Personality,” but if memory serves me correctly, I was voted that, too.
I work with a lot of creative people. And I also get asked about parenting a lot: “Should I get my kid into acting professionally?” is one I get a lot. (Short answer: no. Longer answer: read about it here.) But I also get asked about how I feel about people trying to raise creative children.
For years, I’ve been in an ongoing conversation in my circle of friends and with my ex about how soon is too soon to encourage music tutors, for example. And what if kids don’t want to practice the instrument you’ve spent so much to teach them to play? What do you do then?
I think the most important thing I got out of this article I read – which I wanted to grok with you – is the following: most kids don’t become savants or superduper world-class experts at whatever artistic skill you train them in. Like, statistically speaking, most kids don’t become world-class pianists or violinists or painters. This means to chill out and stop having crazy expectations of your children, please!
Another neat thing the article talked about was a study that correlated a lack of “rules” with creativity. Meaning, fewer rules often means more creativity. I know there are many people out there who will say, “How can you define a creative kid from a not creative one? Are you saying my kid is boring and abnormal if they aren’t deemed creative by your standards?!” To those people I’d say, “I guess that article isn’t for you.”
But for the rest of you who might want to find meaning in this correlation, I think it means that you can’t force your child into becoming creative the way you think they should. Rules about practice time or even bedtime, playtime and such may actually make for a child (or adult!) who is more likely to feel restricted by rules rather than looking for ways to live in a world without feeling they have to meet some expectation or rule. Ultimately, they might feel more free. Free to think their own way; free to try new things; free to be creative!
Here’s a personal example. I taught both of my kids to play piano very young (before they could even spell or read) and there were months – sometimes many of them! – when they wouldn’t want to practice or play. Instead of freaking out about it (which I wanted to, believe me), I decided to keep presenting it and keep playing on my own. Eventually, they both came back to the piano with renewed excitement and commitment. Firtsborn can’t stay off of our piano, so much so that I find myself sometimes wanting to shout, “GET OFF THAT PIANO AND CLEAN YOUR ROOM!” But I hold my tongue because it’s amazing how much he loves it and gets out of it. And Little Man is progressing much faster than he ever did before. He is proud of his musical accomplishments.
I’m glad I didn’t get mad when they didn’t do it my way. I know they likely won’t be concert pianists, but I feel comforted by this article. Sometimes giving more space to be creative or not encourages an environment where creativity grows organically.
Grok With Us:
- What defines a creative person? Do you consider yourself creative, and why or why not?
- Did your parents encourage you to be creative, and if so, how?
- What are the best ways you find to foster creativity?
- Does a household with a lot of rules about bedtime, mealtime and playtime seem to be a place where you can imagine creativity growing? Why or why not? Or does it not matter?