5 Things we can learn about creativity from our children
Unleash your creativity by rediscovering your inner child.
Creativity is about putting your imagination to work. And when it comes to imagination, let’s face it, kids have it by the bucket load. As a creative writing tutor for children, I see this all the time and it never ceases to amaze me all the ideas they come up with.
Imagination is such a wonderful thing, but it requires exercise, like the rest of our bodies, to keep it healthy and strong. As adults, we don’t use our imaginations in the way we once used to. We have, after all, been told to ‘grow up’. That means conforming to the rules of life and the social norms that govern us. It means, those amazing imaginations we had as children, have been dampened down to the extent we tend not to use them anymore.
Rediscovering your imagination requires allowing yourself the luxury of losing those inhibitions, shaking off years of following social norms and finding your inner child. And where better to learn that than taking an example from our younger generations?
1. Practicing what we preach
We teach our kids core values such as resilience, perseverance, patience, confidence, courage and curiosity. We tell them failure is a good thing, encourage them to have a go, to keep going and if they don’t succeed, to try again.
We want them to ask questions, be curious, look beyond what they can see, all traits that creativity requires. We want them to be free of judgement, and to not be held back by worrying about what others might think. Why then, do we shut all this down when we’re adults and try to Pidgeon-hole ourselves into a box so we can fit into whatever society expects from us?
When it comes to living a creative life, isn’t it time we took some of our own advice?
2. Enjoy the process
We suffer from perfectionism syndrome, in our glossy, social media-coated world. We also don’t seem to have the patience or ability, to wait for anything. Its all about the outcome.
Creativity, on the other hand, focuses on the process, and this is something a child really does appreciate.
If you watch a child painting, for example, nine times out of ten they won’t care about the end result. You might notice them walking away, satisfied, moving on to something else. They may ask to do another one. The joy, for them, comes with the physical act of creating that lovely splodgy mess.
3. Break the rules
Adults are conditioned by rules, and the need to conform or comply. Having not yet learned this, children find it much easier to change what isn’t working for them. They don’t consider this ‘rule breaking’. Nor do they consider it a failure. And neither should we.
Who says you can’t have a blueberry sauce with a steak? Just because something isn’t the norm, doesn’t mean to say you can’t do it. Heston Blumenthal is a testament to that.
Breaking the rules can lead to all sorts of new ideas. Whether it’s a recipe, a painting, a crafted item, or a piece of writing, if you’re feeling stuck in a rut, try doing something differently. You might be surprised by the outcome.
4. Looking through a child’s eye
Another advantage of not being governed by rules is the effect this has on the way children see the world. It’s much easier for a child to spot an eagle when they look up to the clouds or a face among the gnarled branches of an old tree. And of course, that cardboard box is a spaceship. Why not?
A child will ask ‘what if…’ and by doing so, the possibilities are endless. Try it for yourself with an ordinary object and see what you come up with.
5. The time is now
Whether at play or focusing on an activity, for a child, nothing else matters other than what they are doing at that moment. This is the essence of creativity. You could call it self-indulgence, but allowing yourself time to focus, creatively, on one thing, and one thing alone is time well spent.
Kids don’t put things off. They don’t wait until they’re 99.9% sure they can do something before giving it a try. They just jump right in because they don’t see a reason not to.
We all have imaginations, therefore, we all have the potential to be creative. Unless you feel you need to make a living from your creative pursuits, you don’t necessarily need to be good at them either. Most people find joy, and a certain amount of fulfilment, from being creative that they don’t get from their day-to-day lives.
The most important thing is, you shouldn’t be afraid to have a go. Expressing oneself through creativity is a basic human right, some might argue, a need, even. As Louis Theroux recently said:
“If you stifle creativity, you’re really only leading half a life.”