Seven Ways to Give our Kids the Right Gifts for Their Future

A little girl . . . was in a drawing lesson. She was six, and she was at the back, drawing, and the teacher said this girl hardly ever paid attention, and in this drawing lesson, she did. The teacher was fascinated. She went over to her, and she said, “What are you drawing?” And the girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” And the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” And the girl said, “They will, in a minute.”  

Excerpt, Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on creativity

Think of creativity as an egg. A blue egg, because blue is a color that makes us more creative.  From this magnificent egg (we are not quite sure what creature lives inside) grows all kinds of good, creating more good that multiplies. New ideas generate more new ideas. Engaging in creativity increases positive emotions, reduces stress and anxiety, creates better relationships, better health, and a sense of wonder about life. There is no end to this beautiful blue-egg chain reaction. It can take us anywhere.

Kids know this when they’re little, but are taught out of it as they get older. Everybody possesses creativity, though most of us think we don’t. We’ve learned not to trust ourselves. We think creativity is a talent only for special people. Frida Kahlo or Steve Jobs. But we’re missing out to think that way. Creativity isn’t so much a particular talent, as a way of engaging with the world. A habit we can build through daily practice, according to cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman.

Creativity is a premier 21st century skill. Divergent thinking, being able to the connect the dots, understanding relationships and complex concepts, seeing multiple solutions to problems, and being more expressive verbally and emotionally, are all benefits of creativity that build happier lives and greater success, no matter where you begin or your IQ score.

There has been an ongoing decline in creativity in the U.S. since the 90s, across grades K-12. The results are that children are showing less emotion, less passion and humor, and are less likely to see things from a different angle. Some blame standardized testing. Others cite educational budget cuts in the arts. Or too much screen time and too little outdoor play. Studies show kids with too many fancy gadgets are less creative, since the toys do all the work. Imagination requires participation. That light saber sword flashing in your son’s face while he pretends to slay a dragon, would be better off a plain old stick, so that he could visualize his own details.

With the holiday season in full swing, it’s good to remember that imagination and creativity are gifts too. They cost less, give more, and build the foundation for a better future. Old-fashioned, no bells-and-whistles gifts like books, paint sets, and building blocks are still better choices than the latest gadget.

Giving our kids the right tools for the future isn’t as hard as you might think. Make your home a learning place, a palace of dreams, a blue nest of dreams, a petri dish. Take your pick. Get creative. Children learn best through play and so do we. Explore. Discover. Make mistakes. Don’t criticize. Laugh a lot and love even more.

Seven ways to make your home a happy nest where the blue egg of creativity can grow.

1) Short cuts that enhance creativity: Move your eyes side to side, take a nap, sit in a blue room, daydream, take a walk, take a bath, be a little tired, steal quiet time, make it a daily habit.

2) Create space for creativity. Invite the muse in. Give her a comfortable spot. A quiet corner with comfy pillows. Leave out some paper and colors, art supplies and pens. Put your kids’ drawings up on the wall. Surround yourself with whatever inspires. Make it a cell-free zone for dreaming.

3) Bring back the bedtime story. Reading to children helps them visualize what they are hearing in the story, which builds imagination muscles and better verbal skills. The more words children hear, the smarter they become. And bedtime stories, well they’re just plain fun.

4) Ask big questions like who made music? Or why do chimpanzees cry? Talk with your kids about what they love, what they are learning. Tell them about what you are learning too.

5) Develop your flow – that magical space where time disappears. Deep in the moment, trusting your inner voice. Daily habits to help flow: Self-expression in whatever form it takes. Doodles, singing, writing, dancing, gardening, cooking, dancing while you cook. Let the light in all through the day. Stop looking at life like a list full of chores.

6) Self-reflection is a lost art that needs to get found again. Daydreaming is the default process of the brain, which means creativity isn’t just fun. We need it for healthy balance. Try to get at least ½ hour of silence a day just to sit and dream. More if possible.

7) Make time for awe. Creativity thrives on wonder. Stop long enough to see it all around you. Engage in beauty throughout the day. It only takes ten seconds to watch the sunset, say thank you. Smile.

‘Tis the Season for Creativity & Fun! A gift for you: During the month of December, Perfectly Awkward Tales is offering a free Color & Creativity book when you buy Shop All The Adventures. Illustrated by Hanna Barcyzk, as seen in The New Yorker and The New York Times. Over 100 pages to color, scribble, draw, or tell your own story, any way you want!  All the illustrations from Perfectly Awkward Tales in one fun book!

Click here to order. During checkout, enter the coupon code CREATIVITY.

Wishing you Happy Holidays!

Love Perfectly Awkward Tales,

Princess Ivana, Magdalene & Marisa