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How Raise a Creative Child, According to Science

posted: 02/08/16
by: Mara Betsch
creative kids
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When a child is young, you expose them to all different activities -- dance, sports, music, etc. -- to see if they enjoy any of these extracurriculars, but also to determine where their strengths lie. We want our kids to be good at something, right?

But there's a fine line between encouraging your kids to explore different interests without becoming a taskmaster, especially if a child displays a certain talent at a young age.

The New York Times recently delved into this subject -- what are the steps you need to take to help your child harness creativity? Unfortunately for some overzealous parents, the answer isn't easy. It means reining in your innate desire to force creativity on your children and, instead, letting it come to them naturally.

Consider some of their data point: Of the students participating in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, the biggest science awards competition since 1942, just 1 percent of participants have made the National Academy of Sciences and 8 percent have become Nobel Peace Prize winners. So how did these child prodigies, who are head and shoulders above their peers, not end up changing the world?

According to the article, it's because they're taught that practice makes perfect and lack the ability to think on their own. While trying to please their parents, teachers, and peers, they become experts at mastering others' works without wanting to create their own.

Consider this: According to studies, the most creative children are least likely to be the teacher's pet. They're too busy developing their ideas to try to please others. And children who have fewer rules at home are more likely to be creative, while those with six or more rules were thought to be more traditional thinkers, according to this study.

Based on the data, they found that creative children were:

  • Given more freedom to discover their own interests and passions
  • Encouraged to develop their own moral code
  • More likely to find joy in their work and extracurriculars
  • Innately curious

Basically, forcing a child into a hobby, even if they display a high level of skill, won't always work out in the end. The article closes with this great piece of advice: "If you want your children to bring original ideas into the world, you need to let them pursue their passions, not yours."