It's National Creativity Day!

Today is May 30, which can only mean that it is National Creativity Day! Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, is quoted as saying “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” Some people believe that you are either born a creative person or you are not. While it is true that there are those people who seem to have a knack for thinking about things or approaching old problems in a new way, we can all develop our creative side.

Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954), a famous French artist, had it right when he said that “Creativity takes courage.” Creativity is the conscious decision to try something new, even when the old way is more comfortable. Stepping out of the ordinary involves risk, and it is through taking intelligent risks that we grow and develop. The same is true for our children.

If we want to help our children develop and grow their creative selves, we need to provide them with a sense of security so that they have the courage to try something new. They need our reassurance that even if they fail that we love and support them. When we focus on reinforcing their positive attempts to become more creative, we actually encourage them to step out a little further the next time; and see things and do things in new and interesting ways.

Simple, yet specific, words of genuine praise can go a long way toward bolstering the self-image children need to be successful. “I am proud of you for trying something new today by getting out your paints and painting your own picture. That is quite a step from coloring in your coloring book. I can tell you put a lot of time and effort into creating this picture of your puppy playing in the backyard.” Praising their effort (instead of only focusing on the accomplishment) is a great way to help them grow their confidence that with intentional and consistent effort they can accomplish many things.

As parents, teachers, and care-givers it is our privilege to encourage our children’s growth and development, not only in competence and doing things well, but especially in character. It is the character component that will help them reach their full potential and live happy and fulfilling lives.

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