There’s something that just feels ‘wrong’ when we see kids who think they’re not creative. This might be because as humans we’re all creative… it’s in our nature. It’s how we’re wired.
We expect to see varying degrees of creativity from adults. But we assume kids, without having the inhibitions most grown-ups have acquired, will feel more free to express themselves. Yet some kids seem to decide early on that they’re not creative. Why is that?
What causes kids to think they’re not creative? And what can we do about it?
Problem #1 – Comparison
When kids compare their creativity to that of others, they’re guaranteed to come up short sometimes. And comparing themselves to someone who’s famous for creativity (like Walt Disney or Steve Jobs) is a sure loss.
Solution: Discourage comparing when you hear it, and be careful not to model it yourself!
Problem #2 – Fear of failure
Taking risks, experimenting, and making mistakes are essential to creativity and all involve failing sometimes. When the consequences of failure are too great, they cause kids to think twice before putting themselves out there again.
Solution: Have students start with taking small risks so it’s easier to learn from their mistakes and keep going.
Problem #3 – Trying to “fit in”
Creativity is about not conforming, not doing things the “expected” way, and in many cases not fitting in. It’s all about being different and having an uncommon way of looking at and thinking about things.
Solution: Encourage and praise divergent thinking when we see it.
Problem #4 – Perfectionism
Perfect is too high a standard for kids, or for anyone. We intuitively know it’s not attainable. Therefore, the trial and error necessary for creativity stay bottled up.
Solution: Rather than asking questions with one right answer, encourage brainstorming and experimentation.
What else can we do to help kids who think they’re not creative?
Creativity can be encouraged, taught, and practiced. We’re all born with the potential to be creative. Since all kids have creative potential, we just need to find ways to inspire and support it.
In the bestseller, “Steal Like an Artist” (affiliate link), author and artist Austin Kleon shares his philosophy of being creative. He explains that all of our ideas originate from things we’ve seen and heard before.
This concept really helps take the pressure off when it comes to creativity and new ideas. It also gives us a new way to think about originality.
No new idea is truly unique to us, but rather a variation of something that already exists. We are constantly being influenced by what’s all around us whether we’re aware of it or not.
When kids feel stressed about being creative, you can remind them that they don’t need brand new ideas. They don’t have to “pull something out of thin air.” Instead, they can just add their own unique twist to an idea that already exists.
Sometimes combining ideas or parts of ideas can be a launchpad for new and better things.
For more inspiration, read about these 10 Ways to Jump-Start Creativity in your classroom.
an inspiring quote:
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
~ Bruce Lee
As we help kids develop their creativity, we can teach them to apply this bit of wisdom from martial artist, actor, and philosopher, Bruce Lee.
We will naturally be influenced by all that we see, hear, and interact with. What we create is a combination of something that already exists plus what we add to or change about it.
And that’s okay as long as we put our own unique spin on things to make them our own.
Not everything kids encounter will be worth taking in as an influence. Just as with life in general, they need to be discerning about what they allow to influence them!