Creative children have parents who encourage innovative ideas through both their words and actions. According to award-winning author Anthony D. Fredericks, “The support and encouragement of parents is the key factor in the creativity of their children.” In his new book, From Fizzle to Sizzle: The Hidden Forces Crushing Your Creativity and How You Can Overcome Them, Fredericks details the behaviors that restrict childrens’ natural creativity along with an array of practical strategies that enhance their creative instincts.
He offers the following ideas:
- Process Over Product. A focus on the products of childrens’ work often diminishes the creative work necessary for successful accomplishments. Try some of the following with your kids: “What will you need to do in order to complete this successfully?” “Everyone learns in a different way. Which way do you think will work for you?” “Please help me understand some of the ways you could solve this issue.”
- Give Kids Choices. Don’t tell your children what they should do or think all the time. Offer them choices whenever practical. “Would you like to go to the park, the museum, or the lake today?” “Do you think we should get a dog, a cat, or a bird for a pet?” All children can benefit intellectually from making their own choices. Often, when their choices are restricted, their creativity is too.
- Simple Toys. Don’t flood your home with lots of expensive and “educational” playthings. The fact is that most toys labeled as “Educational” seldom are. The best toys are the simplest. Here are three recommendations: a large empty cardboard box, a collection of wooden blocks, and an old sheet. Give them to your child and watch their imaginations run wild.
- Get Out. There is convincing research that shows that kids who spend a lot of time in nature are creative kids. A walk around the neighborhood, a bicycle trip through a local park, a car trip to a forest, lake, or nearby river, a stroll through a vacant lot (looking for insects), or a beach vacation are all valuable learning experiences. All are easy and inexpensive ways to expose kids to the creative impact of nature.
- Take a Hike. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1889) once wrote, “All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” He may have been on to something, because two researchers at Stanford University have conclusively proven that walking increases creative ideation. They discovered that “walking improves the generation of novel yet appropriate ideas.” By the way, walking also improves the creative output of adults, too.
Fredericks notes that creativity can be nourished by parents through a number of practices and procedures. How we talk with our children, the questions we ask them, and the activities they are exposed to outside of school are all critical to their creative development. For example, whenever Isidor Isaac Rabi came home from school each day, his mother always asked him, “Izzy, did you ask a good question today?” He often told how that single question helped him develop a creative mind. He later went on to win the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Yes, parents are important in developing creative minds.