Advice Column, Child, Toddler, Tween & Teen Advice

Don’t Kill Your Child’s Creativity for Perfection

Have you or anyone you know ever created something strange?  As reported by weirdunivers.net,  Dutch artist Olaf Mooij created a vehicle called the Braincar.  This strange looking car has what looks like a giant brain on top of it and sports a video camera that captures video as he travels around during the day.  Olaf apparently uses the inside of the brain as a movie screen and projects the video captured during the day on the inside of the brain.

While this might all sound weird and have no purpose for many, I’m guessing that Olaf is a very creative person and may have been allowed to develop that creativity during his childhood.  Parents have the power to make or break a child’s ability to be creative.  It requires remaining calm and relaxed when the child comes up with preposterous ideas and to avoid attempting to keep her grounded out of fear.  It also requires minimizing entertainment electronics and creating plenty of time and space to dream and create.

When I was a child, I would spend hours writing ghost stories on an old yard sale typewriter that I bought with money I earned on my newspaper delivery route.  When I first started creating these stories of fantasy, I remember being so excited to show my creations to my mother, grandparents, and my teachers.  But immediately, they would give me the “that’s nice BUT…” phrase and then follow it with all the things that were wrong with my story, such as the grammar, spelling, story structure, or even whether it could really happen or not.  With that continuous discouragement, I eventually stopped writing.  My adult caregivers meant well, but were so concerned about making sure I did it all just right, that they ended up killing my motivation to create.

I have a video that I sometimes show in my training classes that depicts a Dad reading a newspaper.  His young son approaches him to show him a drawing he created with crayons.  As the boy hands the picture to his father, his beaming pride is quickly destroyed when the father gives him the “that’s nice David, but…” parental statement.  Dad quickly points out to this son that the wheels on an airplane belong on the bottom and not on the roof.  Discouragement instantly appears on the boys face and he slowly walks away.

Why did the Dad in the video correct his son’s drawing?  Perhaps he was motivated by the fear that his son will get laughed at by his peers for not knowing how to draw airplanes.  Let your kids be creative.  Don’t worry about how it will turn out; stop controlling the outcome all the time.  I can’t help but wonder what might have become of my ghost story writing when I was 10 if the adults in my life knew how to relax and just let me create.  Perhaps I could I have become the next Stephen King?  What will you do today to foster creativity in your child?  Start by letting him draw wheels on the roof so he can create his braincar?

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