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.

Parenting teens

January 29, 2020

It was a regular well visit for a young girl. She was 14 and there was clearly some tension in the room between mother and daughter. It is nothing unusual. The teen years often come with a lot of eye-rolling and resistance as the battle for independence is in full gear. This young girl was a little over weight and had some acne on her face. The mother pointed out that she was concerned about her acne, her weight and said her hair was brittle and thin. We proceeded with the physical exam and then I was able to speak to the young girl alone. In the office, I have the opportunity to speak to both parents and teens separately which is always something I find insightful. Usually the parents and the child are worried about very different things. It is frustrating. It is normal.

If you have a teen, you have experienced the eye-rolls, the quick short answer responses to your questions and the seemingly aloof attitude. It is as if nothing that you say really means anything or matters. I suppose over time this frustration can lead to a sort of “giving up” on talking or giving advice. These feelings can leave a parent  worried about their teen and what he/she may not be telling them. Battles for even the silliest of things ensue and the distance grows larger.

The sad thing is that most teens feel alone as they navigate what can be a new and scary world. They are trying so hard to fit in and they are not sure of who they are and what they stand for. Some seem to cruise through the teen years without a bump and others struggle. It is a time of self-doubt and self-exploration. Who am I? Who are my real friends? What is life really about? Teens live in the now. The present consumes them and they think if a certain group of kids doesn’t like them or they are not cool their world is essentially over. Some become obsessed with how they look, their weight or their “persona” on social media.

Parents on the other hand are looking at the overall picture. They have experienced life and want so desperately to protect their teens from the evils in the world. It can become all-consuming. The internet has become a quick resource for teens and they have access to much more information (with videos and images) than most parents have ever had in their lifetime. It is hard to keep up. It is also hard for some parents to remember what it is really like to be a teen. They are so focused on their role as a parent that they do not really stop to put themselves in the place of their teen. This is exactly what was happening with my patient.

When I sat in the room with the young girl, the first thing she said to me was, “my mom hates me”. I paused. She continued and explained that her mother was always telling her that she needed to lose weight, that her skin looked horrible and that her hair looked awful and thin. She told me that her mother was always yelling at her and proceeded to cry.

In the next room the mother was waiting. When I went into the room she started to cry. She explained that she was a single mom and was trying her best to work and provide for her family. She felt alone and worried and didn’t know what to do. She went on to tell me that she was worried about her daughter who was often crying and refusing to leave her room.

This scenario is not uncommon. This the perfect time to bring up the possibility of therapy. Explaining to a family that sometimes what we really need is a neutral person to talk to. Someone that will not judge you and will provide a safe place to speak your mind. I try to explain to teens that there is nothing wrong with them if they see a therapist. There are times in life when we can all use a person to really talk to without the worry of being judged or yelled at. It is also a wonderful time to learn about coping skills and how to find productive and useful ways to manage stress and difficult situations. Often these therapy sessions can also involve the parents when the teen is ready and can prove very useful in helping communication. The earlier intervention begins the better. Studies show that the earlier we provide help the better the outcome.

Do not be afraid to ask for help and do not let your teens lack of attention to your advice stop you from giving it. This is when they need it the most. Even though it seems that they are not listening, they are. Be careful of the words you use and remind your teen that the best way to get through the teen years is to stay true to themselves. Encourage them to find friends that are like them (even if it is only one) and to focus their energy on what makes them truly happy and feels genuine to them.

However, more often than not the best approach is just listening. When you feel like you just can’t find the right words to say, say nothing. When you are considering giving advice but feel that the moment just is not right, say nothing. Many times in life what we all need is just to know that someone really cares. Be that one person for your child.

Have a wonderful week!

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D. 


The purple phase…

July 10, 2018

Every summer, a few weeks before school started, my mom would take me to the store to pick out some new clothes. It was always a special time for me and I looked forward to it all summer. One summer, as usual, we went to pick out my back-to-school clothes. I was 10 years old and going through a “purple” phase…I loved everything purple…I dreamt of driving around in a purple car, and living in a purple house.(thank goodness that phase passed! lol) So that day I chose all of my clothes in some shade of purple. I was beyond excited! When we got home, my grandmother was waiting to see what we had picked out. As I began pulling out purple garment after purple garment my grandmother stared in disbelief. She pulled my mother aside to ask her why she let me chose only purple clothes! My mom looked confused and responded…”because she liked it”.

It’s interesting what you remember as an adult looking back at your childhood. For some reason that day is a very vivid memory. Today I understand why. That day, I made choices and my opinion mattered. I felt respected.

As a parent, it is challenging at times to allow a child to pick and choose what they want to wear, what they want to do, etc. Often it is tempting to gently encourage something else to wear or perhaps hint that there may be a better choice. Then you see the child that walks through the halls of the grocery store in costume and you smile, because you know they dressed themselves and they areΒ  happy! So the next time your child doesn’t match or chooses a style that is just not what you like, take a step back. Does it really matter? As long as it in not inappropriate for the occasion, then just let it be. Allow your child to express his/her individuality and enjoy watching them evolve.

Life is about finding joy and happiness in the little things. Encourage your child to make choices (even if you don’t agree with them). By making choices, their enthusiasm and confidence will grow. Even small children have opinions so take the time to listen. Help your child find who THEY want to be, not who YOU want them to be.

Elizabeth Vainder, M.D.

Reaching for the Stars

May 15, 2018

My entire life I have tried to set high goals. My parents always made me feel as though I truly could do anything. I suppose I took for granted that everyone’s parents were the same. The truth is that sadly it is not this way at all. So many kids are going through life day by day thinking that they are destined to live the life their parents have created. It is sad really when you think about it. Who knows what talents and traits lay hidden inside of these children.

Take the time to sit with your children, even as young as 5 years old, and set goals. Let your child lead in what they want those goals to be. Do not laugh or ridicule a goal even if it seems ridiculous or unreachable to you. It is important to instill in them the idea that with hard work and perseverance anything is possible.

I believe that short term goals are just us as important as long term goals. The short term goals are what will bring you closer to the long term goals,Β  so choose them wisely. Help your children see the bigger picture but help them by coming up with a plan to get there. Write down the goals. Perhaps buy a “goal notebook” that they can keep and look at from time to time. It will keep them motivated.

Explain to your child that anything that is worth attaining will not be easy. There will be setbacks and they will fail. When this happens, the focus must be on what you do after this happens. Do you chose to stop and give up on your dreams?… or do you stop and reflect on what happened and learn from it. Sometimes we need to make a mistake to learn a lesson or see something more clearly. Do not get discouraged from these setbacks. These moments are the ones that you learn from the most.

Encourage your child to be proactive when they fail. If they failed a test and didn’t understand something, have them set up a meeting with the teacher to learn what they didn’t understand. It is not only about the grade. It is important to learn for the sake of learningΒ  and to explore what you can do differently in the future. Otherwise, these mistakes and grades mean nothing. Do not allow the final grade to determine your child’s self worth or potential. Help your child go back and review how they studied and perhaps find new strategies to improve their grade on the next assessment.

Always “talk” to your kids. Listen really….the truth is when you REALLY listen to your kids, you will learn so much about what they are thinking, what they are worrying about, etc. This pertains to small kids and teens. We all want to be heard.Β  WhenΒ  you stop to really listen to your child, without judgement, you will see that relationship grow in ways that you could only dream of.

So, go out there and sit with your child, set goals, listen and enjoy their journey into adulthood. It is the best part of being a parent-helping your child find their true potential. #parenthood #settinggoals #teens #schoolanxiety #drmom #drvcares

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



The Why


The Why

March 6, 2018

I am a board certified pediatrician. I decided to write this blog not as your doctor but as your friend. I am also a mom, so I know where you are coming from. I have been in practice for 17 years and have learned so much from my children and my patients. This site is a casual site to share what I have learned. This is not intended for medical advice or consultations. I have just grown and learned so much in these last few years, that I wanted to share it with all of you. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, etc. but I am also ME and I want to share with all of you the importance of not forgetting YOU. I hope you enjoy my posts. They are intended to remind you about important moments and topics that come up while parenting. Parenting is a beautiful but sometimes frustrating and frightening journey. I want to remind you that you are not alone. Many patients come in with the same concerns and worries regardless of ethnicity, culture or background. I have found this so interesting. If we really stop to listen to each other we will realize we are more similar than we think. I hope you enjoy my blog. Join me every Tuesday for a new topic!

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