As parents do, you will have fallen deeply in love with your child from the first moment you set eyes on her. You will have known intuitively what makes your child special and unique.
But then if your child was born creative and original, there is quite a chance of trouble ahead...
That’s what happened to me and the many parents I have worked with over the past 20 years. As school life progressed my creative children became what seemed like smaller versions of themselves.
Not quite able to fit into the system made them feel wrong, less clever than others and confused too about what was actually wanted from them. At 7, my daughter once came home complaining that school was not a place where she could think her own thoughts.
The experience left us all confused and I too, lost my footing until I discovered ways to reclaim a sense of self-worth for us all.
What can we do to support our creative children to keep them in touch with their inner compass?
What can we do to help them build resilience and minimise risks of stress, anxiety and depression?
Here are 5 ideas that helped me...
1. Read them stories and poems. Tell them fairy tales. Here Philip Pullman will explain why.
Stories offer us maps, which serve as paths in the often confusing and hostile landscape of our lives.
Stories give hope and encouragement. They offer us heroes who teach us about endurance and the postponement of gratification.
Stories connect us to the suffering and victory of others. They not only teach us right from wrong but also help us deal with ambiguity, with the reality of not having clear answers.
Stories help make us into heroes in our own lives: people who have the courage to take responsibility for their own lives and who rejoice in their own unique calling.
The example of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings show us the yearning of young people for constructive myths. These can be realised by both poetry and stories. They are even more powerful if read by or to your children, rather than seen. Words (rather than passive pictures) offer an increased possibility to develop the power of imagination.
2. Teach creative children to use language well.
Words are powerful and how we use language (both internally in our self-talk, and in communication with others) can make or break us.
Creative children may not always be able to read easily but if taught well, their language will reflect their amazing and special personalities.
3. Teach your children to recognise emotions and name them accurately, thus avoiding the pitfalls of ‘black-and-white thinking’.
For more on this, read my blog ‘3 Ways to End Black-and-White Thinking’
4. Encourage your creative children to learn skills that require focus and perseverance.
Developing the ability to give their full attention to tasks, interests and people increases the quality of life satisfaction. Absorption in a task - like drawing or acting or music - and the learning that comes of it will feed continuously and naturally into building and maintaining a lifelong sense of self-worth.
5. Foster the art of togetherness and face to face conversation.
Take a leaf out of my colleague’s book. He insists that any teenager visiting his house, leave their phone on the fridge until their departure.
Thank you for reading this blog. I would love to hear what special things you do to support your creative children in developing their sense of worth and uniqueness - please leave your comments below and share this blog with other parents!