What is creativity? For some, the answer lies in artistic expression, while for others, creativity is reflected by innovative applications of maths and sciences. Business Dictionary defines creativity as the “mental characteristic that allows a person to think outside of the box, which results in innovative or different approaches to a particular task.”
And creativity is not just found in the arts. Creative people can practice their talents in a wide variety of venues—including science, technology, design, mathematics, engineering, popular culture, as well as fine arts, and crafts.
Is creativity born in you or can it be nurtured and developed in everyone? The truth is, everyone has individual gifts that can be fostered into creative expression or practical application. The secret lies in identifying these gifts, and finding ways to develop and channel them.
Are Some People Naturally More Creative?
You’ve probably heard someone referred to as “naturally creative,” but are some people really born with a propensity to creativity? Research shows that this is indeed the case. In fact, a recent study using MRIs and psychological testing, showed that some people do have a larger capacity for creative thinking and application than others.
The reason for this lies in the fact that creativity is the result of a complex interplay between controlled and spontaneous thinking, and studies show that some people have a higher capability for spontaneous, original thought. For example, in one of the tests, participants were shown common objects and asked for creative ideas in using them. When a sock was shown, one person suggested it be used as a foot warmer, while another suggested that it could be turned into a water filtration system—a significantly more creative idea.
Nevertheless, psychologists also agree that every child has the potential for creativity, because everyone is born with an imagination—and imagination is the spark that lights the creative fire. And learning to be a creative child is important because creativity not only helps children develop new ways to express themselves; it also helps children (as well as adults) come up with new ways to solve problems and meet challenges.
How Parents Can Foster Creativity
Here are some inventive ways that you can raise a creative child:
• Utilize creative playtime: This can include starting a story and having each child add to it, or inviting children to come up with their own stories. Activities such as creating puppets and putting on puppet shows, inventing new gadgets, crafting, painting, or any type of artistic expression will also help nurture individual creativity.
• Allow your children to pursue their passions: Whether they love inventing science projects, playing music, or composing poetry, encourage this passion wholeheartedly, and offer support and tools (such as books, chemistry sets, music lessons, etc.) that can help them develop their interests.
• Don’t impose your opinions on your children’s tastes: If your child loves something that you don’t, such as a movie, a fashion style, or a type of music, don’t criticize or try to impose your own taste. Instead, accept that your child is an individual who will form independent tastes from yours, and encourage this.
• Help your child explore the world: Expose your child to new and exciting places and experiences. This can include interactive museums, exotic ethnic restaurants, nature centers, theatrical presentations, and music concerts. Many a dancer was inspired by that first trip to the ballet, while many a great scientist first developed a love of science from childhood trips to a museum.
By nurturing your child’s existing talents and trying to help your child discover new interests, you can light a spark of creativity that can grow into a lifelong passion. Likewise, by encouraging your child to develop imaginative modes of expression and independent interests, you can help your child meet the challenges of life with greater wisdom and understanding.