4 Ways to Encourage and Develop Creativity in Your Child

February 26, 2020

Happy Wednesday!

Today I wanted to share with you an article that I read from the American Psychology Association about creativity and I wanted to share it with you.

In schools all around the country the rapidly changing world around us is leaving many educators worried about how to teach children and eventually adults to prepare them for the future. Innovation is at the core of this new way of thinking when it comes to teaching.

Did you know that according to a NASA study done, 98% of 4-5 year olds scored in the “creative genius” level? Yes! Did you also know that five years later, only 30 percent of the same group of children scored at the same level? Then again, five years after that only 12 percent? I don’t know about you but those statistics are frightening!

It seems that education itself causes us to change our thinking from divergent to convergent thinking. What this means that instead of thinking outside of the box, we learn that some things are just a certain way and questioning the facts are discouraged.

Sure, you may argue that some things are of course facts, but the truth is that not everything we learn are just facts.

A psychologist by the name of Robert Epstein, Ph.D. has conducted research for ways to strengthen creativity. These are the 4 ways that you can apply them to your children!

  1. Capture new ideas– Encourage your kids to keep a notebook by their bed to write down ideas that come to their head. If they prefer to use their phone or computer they can write and save ideas there too. Even as a parent you can carry with you a notebook to encourage and show your child that you value their ideas.
  2. Seek out challenging tasks – It’s human nature to want to do things that come easily to us. Let’s face it, it is hard to struggle when you are first learning something. However, remember that even professionals and experts were once novices. No one is born knowing everything. Try encouraging your child to imagine crazy solutions to life’s problems. Just the exercise of trying to come up with solutions to problems that seem unsolvable will encourage your brain to come up with new ideas and innovative concepts. When their brains try to tell them that something is impossible, or worse…we as parents tell them that something is impossible we quiet the creative genius inside them.
  3. Broaden your knowledge – Encourage your child to read or look up information about a wide array of subjects. Even if their passion is sports or cooking or history, etc. spending time learning about different things will create new thoughts and this is how some of the most innovative ideas are born! As a parent, try reading about something you know nothing about. It’s never too late to learn about something new. This can begin in early childhood and can be your child’s mantra through college and life.
  4. Surround yourself with interesting things and people – Again, we are most comfortable with people that think like we do or act like we do. Try going out of your comfort zone. Encourage kids to speak to a new child at school or maybe try studying in a different area of the house to bring a change of scenery. Look up local events near you and try something different.

Other ways mentioned in the article were about staying happy, rested and bright. I know that you have heard me mention the importance of sleep.

Sleep- It turns out that according to a study done in 1993 at Harvard Medical School by psychologist Deidre Barrett, PhD., she asked her students to imagine a problem they were trying to solve right before they went to sleep. It turns out that half of the students reported having dreams that addressed their problem and a quarter came up with solutions to their problems. (I think us parents can use this skill too!!). (published in Dreaming (Vol.3No.2 1993).

Happiness- Another study published in Creativity Research (Vol. 16, No.2, 2004, found that sadness inhibits new ideas. When someone is sad they are afraid of making decisions and making mistakes so they stop coming up with solutions and sometimes stay stuck in their thought patterns.

Bright– This last one is a simple one. Research shows that our creativity is boosted when we are in natural environments. Spend time outside, go for walks, and be creative when choosing a study area for your child to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

So it turns out that most of us are born as creative geniuses! Let’s try to encourage that creativity in our children. They will be the ones coming up with solutions and inventions for the future. Definitely something to think about!

Have a wonderful week!

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

Are you really living or is life just passing you by?

September 17, 2019

Remember when you were little and summer vacation seemed eternal? Those long summer days that you spent bored or with nothing to do? Remember also how the school year seemed so long and it felt like you would never finish the year?

It’s funny, it seems that once you become an adult, life seems to be in fast forward mode. The way January suddenly becomes December is almost cruel. You look at your kids and you remember the day they came home from the hospital with you and now they are off to college. It’s crazy!

I started thinking about this and began to wonder why exactly this happens. Time is time right? Why does time feel so slow when you’re little and quicker than the speed of light as an adult?

I really think this has to do with living life in the present. When you’re a kid you don’t spend your time thinking much about the past or the future. When you’re building a fort and planning a sleep over that’s pretty much all you’re thinking about! When you are playing hide and seek you are focused on making sure you don’t get caught and looking for your next hiding spot. It’s living in the now to the exponential power.

Somewhere along the road, we become adults and even though we are physically present somewhere our thought are somewhere else. Did I lock the door? What am I going to make for dinner? Will my son be okay today? Did I make the doctor’s appointment?

We spend so much time worrying about the future or regretting the past that we forget about what we are doing right now. It’s scary really.

Take the time to really focus on what you’re doing at least for a little while every day. Put away the phone and be really present. It doesn’t matter if you are making dinner, taking a shower, putting away dishes or doing laundry. Being present can make the most mundane things seem interesting.

The other thing is that we often fail to recognize how our thoughts change our mood. Worrying all day is certainly not going to feel good or help you feel motivated. Instead try making an effort to stay in the present. See how it feels and learn from your kids. Experience the joy of really living today and everyday.

Don’t let your thoughts and the constant notifications coming from your phone steal your life away. It’s truly amazing how much more you can get done when you really focus and are present. This week I challenge you to try this and see how you feel.

Remember that most of the things we worry about never happen anyway! (Parents worry about EVERYTHING!!) Don’t waste your time there! Have a great week!


Elizabeth Vainder, M.D., F.A.A.P