Frustrations of a Linear Parent: Parenting the Creative Child
When I first noticed a difference between her style and mine, I assumed it was my lack of discipline and follow-through that was causing our breakdowns. But after trying everything from books to internet advice, I decided to stop reading parenting articles and just start parenting. Instead of studying books, I started to pay attention to my child and tried to learn about who she was and how her mind and emotions were working. Don’t get me wrong, there are times that I have to be the parent and set concrete boundaries. But as I took time to really understand and grasp who my daughter was, we formed a special bond. We both benefit so much from this bond, because we learn from each other and appreciate our differences, rather than try to force our own personality on the other person.
Here are a few of my tips for parenting your creative minded child:
- If they have trouble telling you how they feel, it may be because they find it easier to express emotions through actions rather than words. Watch what they are doing, and try to help them accurately communicate with words what those actions mean or how they are feeling. Words aren’t always the first thing that comes to mind for them, and expressing emotion through action can appear to us like they are “acting out” or misbehaving.
- Many creative children are externally motivated – they are people pleasers. If you laugh & enjoy something, they will continue to do it. As they grow up, you may notice that they are non-confrontational in relationships, and hesitate to “rock the boat” or upset others. They may also be easily persuaded to try new things, which can be a good or bad thing. It is important for you, as their parents, to start early in providing them with positive reinforcement for the good they do, and teaching them to be strong in who they are and what they value.
- Creative minds tend to be visual learners. It may really help them if they can see something demonstrated rather than verbally explained. Try showing them how to do something and doing it alongside them, asking afterwards if they can explain it back to you. This way you are helping to stimulate both sides of their little creative minds.
- Just because your child is being quiet doesn’t necessarily mean that they are sad or mad. This one was the hardest lessons for me to learn. I was used to rambunctious and loud being the norm with my other kids, so when my daughter was introspective, quiet, and enjoyed playing on her own, it came a shock. Even if she left the room upset and spent the next hour quietly playing alone, it didn’t mean she was harboring bitterness or still dwelling on the anger. This was just how she best processed her emotions. I have also found the same to be true for many adults – quiet doesn’t equal angry or sad.
- Practice listening instead of talking. Wow – I am definitely a talker! I will talk through a scenario 100 different ways, discuss it upside down and backwards, and still feel like maybe I should talk to one more person! But I’ve had to realize that talking at someone and talking with someone are not the same thing. Talking with someone means that you STOP talking and take time to listen too. By doing this, you may be able to see that they aren’t actually understanding what you were saying, or that your logic isn’t making sense for them. Listen to how they are viewing things, and resist the urge to interrupt with your perspective.
Parents often take on the role of teacher for their kids. This can be especially frustrating for a linear parent, trying to help their creative minded child reach their full capacity. These are a few of the ways I have found most effective for teaching my creative minded child:
- Read aloud to them. Especially if they aren’t auditory learners, this will help them to develop that skill and begin to build a foundation that will greatly benefit them throughout life! To further engage their mind, act out the story. Teach them to take on a character in a story and really relate to them. Audio books can be great for rides in car, allowing your child to use their creative mind to build a scene and characters, all while still learning to process information differently.
- Let them have alone time to discover new things. Set up a time when they can experiment with something new on their terms. A great example would be cloud dough or bath tub painting. Let them explore whatever makes them feel totally in their element – art, dancing, music. Hold back, and join the fun when they ask and seem ready to share it with you.
- Role Play. This can help teach them ways to communicate for themselves in future situations, when you may not be there! We love to role play at the grocery store – I let her be “the mommy”. She gets to pay, speaks with the cashier, pushes the cart, and make the cereal decision (which means we often end up with Cocoa Puffs in the cart every week!).
- Get them to use their hands and move their bodies. Many creative children will respond best to this kind of tactile learning. Let them touch things to explore their world. Play memory games or do puzzles. Use patterns to help with memorization. Dance and move to an educational song, or let them make up their own new song! Here are a couple of Fine motor activities to help as well!
The most important thing to remember is to keep trying! Even when you feel like you are having a hard time connecting, don’t quit. Ask other moms for new crafts or projects, or browse one of our Pinterest boards for something to help spark creativity. Creative-minded children are often quick to forgive and offer grace – don’t be afraid to try new things or look silly in front of them as you help them explore their imaginations and create new and beautiful things.