TWO MYTHS ABOUT CREATIVITY
Posted by Cara Martens
Creativity is a hot topic these days, but the idea is sometimes misunderstood. Here are two myths that could actually squelch creativity if believed.
Myth #1 – You are born creative or you’re not.
Creativity is not a gene that’s passed on like red hair. It can be developed. We are all born natural problem solvers. And problems require us to get creative. We might create a new solution or even express how we feel about the problem as a way to process it.
I’m pretty confident that you as a parent are creative—a lot. It’s the nature of the job! Your child doesn’t want to eat dinner, so you pass out kid chopsticks or set up a picnic in the middle of the floor to change things up. Your teen doesn’t seem to want to hang out or talk anymore—so you plan a day full of his favorite or new things and surprise him by inviting close friends. We’re all creative—we’re just aren’t necessarily seeing or naming all that we do as using our “creativity”.
The next time there’s a problem, try inviting your kids or teens into the action. Say “I wonder what we should do…” and trail off. Their amazing minds will start to fill in the blank automatically. You can build on or bounce off their ideas.
Myth #2 – Creativity happens in an instant—out of nowhere.
Actually, creativity is rarely making something from nothing—that’s God’s job. Instead, creativity is more like making new connections or combining things in a different way.
One of my favorite movie examples of this was in Apollo 13 when something on the shuttle broke way out in space. An engineer walks into a crowded conference room and dumps a bag of stuff in the middle of the table and basically says, “This is what they’ve got up there—so we’ve got to find a way to fix the problem using just this—oh and they’re running out of air!”
Creativity is a process and it actually thrives on challenge, so constraints—like using only certain materials or having a time limit—are actually helpful.
Here are some quick tips to try to develop creativity in your kids (and yourself):
Create challenge scenarios by providing a few simple resources. Here’s a few ideas to start:
Embrace Real Challenges. More than anything, creativity is an attitude. We’ve got to positively model it—which basically means talking through the process out loud instead of just mentally brainstorming and solving things all by ourselves. This way our kids and teens can see it’s a natural and normal part of everyday life.
Try reframing negative problems or frustrations into an exciting challenge whenever possible—rub your hands together as you start to wonder about all the different things you could try– “What if…?” and “How about…?” Be loud and proud that your family is the type of people that like and thrive on challenges.
What other myths did I miss that prevent us from raising creative kids? What other things would you add to this list to develop more creativity in our kids? I’d love to continue the conversation, so add your comments below.
About the Author:
Cara Martens loves to write, research, and develop creative ideas. She and her husband, Kevin, have two kids and live in Texas. Read more from Cara on Twitter, @CaraMartens.
Connecting with Your Kids: The Secret Sauce
by Sarah Anderson
In Georgia, we’re approaching the 100th day of school. This being the first year where we have a child in school, this is a big milestone. Not necessarily for our kindergartener, but for us, his parents. School, as turns out, is no joke. I am still waiting on my body to figure out how to be a morning person.
Wake up time aside, the adjustment to having a child in school is a big one. We’ve entered a realm of parenting that has taken, well, 100 days to get used to.
But the biggest change in our family has been our need to be more intentional.
Before school, connecting with our boys was a breeze. They were with us all the time, and when something came up that needed to be addressed, it could be done immediately. If we felt like one of our boys was out of sorts, we figured out a way to connect quickly. But these days, quick and immediate don’t seem to happen. Now, planning and purpose are necessary.
Just a couple of weeks into school, we got in the habit of taking Asher to a coffee shop once in a while for this very reason. We thought, “What better way to connect with our boy, than over a latte (for me) and some hot chocolate (for him)?!?” Seemed like a great idea. That’s how I like to catch up with people and where my best conversations happen. Wouldn’t it be the same for a six-year-old?
Wrong. After school, my son was not in the mood to spend more time sitting, in a chair, at a table, talking. He’d much rather prefer “having time to be silly” as he told me.
But that left my husband and me with some roadblocks because Asher is a kid who processes internally and who has a lot going on beneath the surface. So, in order to really get to the heart of him, we had to get creative. A coffee shop wasn’t cutting it.
Then last week, after another failed after school trip for a peach smoothie, my husband spent some time in Asher’s room building Legos with him. They tackled Star Wars figures, dragons, and snakes and, in the process, something happened.
Asher began talking. As he intently focused on finding the right pieces and following the numbered instructions, he opened up. He volunteered insight into his day, into frustrations he was feeling, but also things that were making him happy.
It was an “aha” moment for us. Legos, or playing with him, was the secret sauce.
Consequently, here’s what we’re figuring out: As life changes, our kids change. What can feel like them pulling away from us can actually just be them maturing and growing up. They aren’t looking to shut us down necessarily; they are inviting us to try harder. To find the way to connect with them in a new way, when the old way isn’t working anymore.
We would be foolish to take every failed attempt to connect as a rejection. We would be wise to use it as a springboard to encourage us to try something new. To get creative. To figure out a different way to reach the heart of our kids.
They aren’t shutting us out, they’re creating new pathways for others to know them. And we get to be the trailblazers.
Maybe a new season of life has left you scrambling, feeling like you don’t know your child anymore. Don’t give up on them. And don’t give up on yourself. To figure out what the secret sauce is for you and your child, ask yourself some questions:
Parenting is going to keep us on our toes. And it should. If we feel like we are always playing catch up with our kids, it’s okay. Because it means we’re in it, we’re still going after them. It’s worth the effort to pursue the hearts of your kids—for lots of reasons, but for us that includes the money we’re saving on lattes.
About the Author:
Sarah Anderson is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. She is a lead writer and content creator for Orange's XP3 High School curriculum. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, Rodney, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald's French fries.