Do you consider yourself to be the creative type?

Trick question.

There is no such thing. We all have a creative genius in us. However, some use their creativity and others don’t. There is nothing better in life than being creative, so why are there so many who label themselves as “not the creative type”?
There may be a few reasons, but in this post, I throw the blame on parenting.
The creative adult is the child who survived
{Click for a tweetable: “The creative adult is the child who survived” -Ursula LeGuin}

The early years are when creativity takes root.  Through our parenting, our vulnerable little artists learn that they can or cannot express themselves freely.

You may be aware of the types of activities that a child needs in order to encourage their artistic abilities. But, less obvious, are the common parenting blunders that could actually be harming their creative genius.

8 Parenting Mistakes That Kill A Child’s Creativity

1) You correct her art – she excitedly announces that the unattractive creature in her sketchbook is…Mama’s portrait! Just go with it. Don’t show her how to improve on her creations.
Imagine if Picasso’s parents showed him how to draw a “proper” smiley face.

2) You insult her imagination – the other day my toddler refused to sit at the dining table because the Silly Billy Gumbo, a cartoon giant, was creeping “outside the window”. I made matters worse by trying to convince her that he doesn’t exist. I should’ve explained to her that the big guy is just a gentle giant looking to make friends.
“It’s all in your head” is not the type of message that encourages creativity.

3) You choose everything for her –  my daughter insists on choosing her outfits nowadays, which, on a good day, is polkadots from head to toe. But a fashion faux pas is a small price to pay for her creative expression. Give your kid options in food, outfits, and activities.
When she is given creative control, she comes to know who she is and what makes her tick.

4) You have too many rules – creativity requires room to breathe. Rules are restricting. With too many rules, you risk raising a robot.

5) You turn down her volume – This is the one I really need to work on. My toddler has the lungs of an opera singer so, “shh” comes out of my mouth as often as I breathe. Let your child express herself without inhibition; happy squeals, angry shrieks and everything in between. If the volume is driving you batty, address her feelings and the cause behind them.
Telling kids to turn it down teaches them to conduct themselves according to what others think. This is when the tragedy of hidden talents occurs.

6) You don’t allow her to make a mess – making a mess is allowing creativity to take full shape. With less mess, you may have less laundry and a clean house, but is that worth the creativity torture?

7) You have her enrolled in too many classes – between dance class, swimming lessons, and soccer camp, there’s no time  nor energy left for unstructured play, a chance for kids to get comfortable with entertaining themselves.
Complete creativity needs nothing to thrive.

8) You let them watch too much TV – TV doesn’t leave much to the imagination. With too much tube time, kids will find activities that require a bit of imagination, too much work.
Before you know it, the imagination station is out of business.

Which mistake(s) on the list are you guilty of? (I’ve been guilty of all of them at some point!)

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2 Responses to 8 Parenting Mistakes That Kill A Child’s Creativity

  1. Jen says:

    Such great points, Nat. Right now, I feel like I’m a little bit guilty of #7… Not sure how it happened as I strongly agree with this point, but between swimming, ballet, and Strong Start, we’ve got structured activities 4 days a week (for the next few weeks at least) right now.

    #1 is the one I always watch for on the first day of Kindergarten when parents join students for their first day… It’s amazing how many parents (with the best of intentions) will make their child’s name crown or “fix” it as they go along in order for the finished product to look “nice”. I must admit, it makes my skin crawl a little bit! 🙂

    • Nat Nanton says:

      Honestly Jen, I’ve never known of a mom who does SO MANY awesome creative activities with their kid. And I can think of quite a few ones that play to her imagination (sensory bins! :)). It all more than makes up for the 4 days a week you have for the next while.
      As for #1, I guess you’d see that all the time! When I realized this one, it was a major eye-opener for me!

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