Evaluate Yourself to Help Your Child Achieve Creative Potential 

As you have discovered, your child, who is more creative than most children, is decidedly different. That's how God made him, and God has given you the opportunity to foster that uniqueness. It's a matter of creating an environment where your child's differentness may be molded so that he will maintain an acceptable balance between conformity and nonconformity.

As you decide what is needed to develop your child's creative potential, you should probably begin with a self-examination or self-evaluation. Assessing your attitude toward creativity will enable you to better understand your creative child. This task may be easier if you substitute the word "change" for "creativity":

Do you initiate change, accept it, or avoid it whenever possible? 

Your child may adopt your attitude toward creativity, just as he has adopted your attitudes in many other areas of his life.

How different does it need to be before you will consider it creative? 

We tend to think in terms of the large and forget the small. The elephant gets attention because it occupies more space, but the mosquito cannot be ignored when it bites your neck. God created them both, and I doubt He would say one is better than the other. Each has a place in God's kingdom. Blessed is the person who finds his place and fulfills his potential.

Sometimes it's the little changes that annoy us. If the water pipe breaks, we know we need a plumber, but how long will we tolerate a dripping faucet?

Creative people like to think big; they are certain they are the next (fill-in-the-blank)! Big is not always better. Recognition, appreciation, and encouragement of small changes may calm the clamor for the impossible. 

In what areas are you most comfortable dealing with change, and how much change can you handle? 

Society is not looking for creative automobile drivers. Safety means more than creativity in that context. The question confronting parents of a creative child is, "What limits will you set for his creative interests?" Does your comfort zone include chemistry, animal husbandry, or woodworking as well as writing and the fine arts?

Creativity is often viewed in a very limited manner. When asked to name the most creative people of the 20th century, most adults indicate they have never given it a thought. It is easy to take creativity for granted. After the awkward pause, people will name a very short list, beginning with scientists, artists, musicians, and sometimes authors. When you consider the changes of the last 100 years, that group of creative people seems pretty narrow. 

What really bugs you about your child's creativity? 

Examining your attitudes toward creativity, the size of the project, and your toleration for change may leave you with unanswered questions. Are you concerned about the mess, the unfinished projects, the space demands, or the expense? Answering these will help in setting boundaries for the family.

Individual differences are easily apparent if you have more than one child. If every child is creative, do you have enough energy to go around? Every child has equal value, but different time demands are not uncommon. It is natural to like people who agree with you and like the same things you do, but you dare not favor the compliant child over the creative child or vice versa. Parental creativity and the wisdom of Solomon will be in great demand as you deal with individual differences.

Understanding your creative interests and limitations will enable you to do a better job of creating an environment where your child's creativity can flourish. 

Be on the Lookout! 

Your creative child may need you in special ways at different times. Be on the lookout for:

  • The time to demonstrate a genuine interest in his creative project. When he wants to talk about it, lay your pencil down and listen. Realistically, you may have to schedule a time when you can give him the kind of attention he needs.
  • The time when he really wants your opinion. The creative process is rarely instantaneous, in spite of the Eureka moment. Don't be shocked by the many false starts and restarts. Don't judge the results at every stopping point unless he is a dependent learner who needs reassurance that he is making progress.
  • The time when he really is open to or needs suggestions for handling his energy level, his resources, and his timetable. As much as he would like to think the world revolves around his creative project, it does not.
  • The time when sibling conflicts demand intervention. The creative child has to cope with peers and they with him. It will foster creativity and improve family relations if family members discover how to offer artful criticism instead of faultfinding. A healthy self-concept is important for everyone.
  • The moment when peer evaluation would be helpful. Proverbs 27:17 helps with creativity: "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." It will be refreshing for him to discover that siblings do actually understand what he is trying to do.
  • Those rare instances when your creative child asks, "What can I do?" Suggest a realistic and appropriate problem for his energy and talent.
  • The times when he needs to grieve over his losses, his failures. Don't ridicule his disappointment or tell him to "grow up." Elijah wasn't the only man in history to have a Juniper tree experience.
  • The moment when he is teetering between giving up or fighting on. Be generous with encouragement, but never praise mediocrity or laziness. He knows whether it's good or not and if he has done his best.
  • The period of uncertainty about being different. Give him emotional permission to be different and the privilege of trying new things.

Realizing that the ability to create is God's gift, commit to fostering the creative ability of your children. The next task is to create an environment for optimum opportunities.