When you talk to an eight-year-old about their interests, you will observe at least two things. First, they are full of ideas. Second, they are practically limitless. The same eight-year-old that wants to be an aeronautical engineer, wants to sing, wants to write fiction, and wants to travel all over the world.
In other words, children are imaginative optimists. They are also multipotentialites who believe they can combine several interests at the same time.
But do we have this kind of children grow and do different things as adults? No, the story changes.
We often hear about how people grow up and abandon their childhood dreams. In many instances, adults feel nostalgic when they see children do the things they once did as children. They convince themselves that they have lost their creative geniuses and this begs the question of why we lose our creativity
We live in a society that has charted a path to success which typically involves going to school, getting a job and growing in a professional field. We are socialized into this path and we also try as much as possible not to deviate from the norm. Our society encourages people to fit into boxes.
Therefore, parents sometimes do not know how to nurture their children’s creativity, and adults with creative interests give up their dreams to earn a living.
While adults might be driven by economic pressures to find means of earning a living, we can nurture creativity in children by following some of the tips below:
- Allow children to play with people: The emphasis here is “people”. Parents should allow their children to get behind those screens (the TVs, computers and tablets) and have real human interactions by playing with people. Sometimes, it is when children play with their peers that other children begin to point out what they are good at. How was it that many of us could write drama scripts over the top of our heads when we played with other children while growing up?
- Invest in children’s creativity paths: If a child is talented at singing or painting, the parents can find a voice coach for the child, or buy tools for the child. There is this argument about how talent is over-rated and how talented individuals need to put in the hard work and discipline necessary to help them get better. Sometimes, the investment parents need is their time and not anything materialistic. Parents can spend some time watching children work on their creative paths.
- Listen to the overly ambitious daydreamer: Parents need to understand that children are multipotentialites by nature. Therefore, it is okay to hear that a child wants to be many things at once like the previous example of a child that wants to be an aeronautical engineer, a singer and a writer. By listening to these children, parents can understand how they can guide their children.
- Understand that there are multiple paths to career success: The world has moved beyond the times where only certain professions were considered prestigious. If a child does not want to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer, allow them to explore other paths in their line of interests.
- Help children to focus on their creative projects: We live in a world that is full of distractions. From the 24/7 TV stations to the cycles of stories on social media, and the information overload on the internet, it is hard to focus on anything. It would be helpful for parents to train their children especially those already exposed to technology on how to go cold turkey. Let them set time aside to work on their creative projects.
By following some of the tips shared in this article, we will be in a better position to nurture creativity in children.
Anifat Ibrahim, Research Associate | Project Management Professional (PMP).