Debbie Fourth

Do you ever wonder what makes one child so creative while another is so inhibited? Why, for example, does Alex come up with such thought-provoking questions and write such silly poems, while Mike never veers from the conventional, “safe” paths that are tried and true?

Studies have shown that parents’ attitudes toward creativity have a lot to do with it. “Support, freedom, and an atmosphere rich in humor are the right stuff for producing a creative person” says Teresa Amabile author of Growing Up.

Creative. “Parents do not have to be outstandingly creative to have children who are. But parents who want to encourage creativity will have to work at it and show self-restraint.

Amabile suggests showing restraint in the following “creativity killers”:

*Evaluation: Parents who always keep track of how and what their children are doing make the kids feel like they are always being graded-even if parents are generous with praise.

Reward: If rewards are overused, children begin to feel motivated only by that reward. They begin to feel bribed for what they’re doing. “Motivation-more than skill-is the key to creativity.”

*Competition: A study has concluded that competition can “really determine creativity, especially if it’s a threatening, win-lose kind of competition.

*Restricted choice: Parents have done it before, and want to help Junior do it quickly and effectively. But children have their own way of doing things, their own speed, and their own need to figure things out for themselves. At times, parents need to back off and let Junior learn the hard way. In the process, his powers of creative thinking will expand.

*Modeling: If Junior sees Mom and Dad loving what they do with their lives, Junior will get more excited about what he is doing with his life. Get excited about learning and doing new things with your child. Have a home where there’s a lot of activity, a lot of opportunity for doing different kinds of things.

(The original publisher of the above material is unknown.)

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