Many books have been written about creativity and how it helps us. But how is creativity fostered from an early age? Children need boundaries and rules when they are little. But after a certain age, they need to know more about values than rules. What age would that be? Each child is different but there is way to tell when they are ready to learn about the difference between rules and values. That happens when you find them breaking rules too often- usually around the age of six. That’s because they are actually asking to understand values that are behind the rules. They internalise values more than a list of rules. This understanding also results in the child being more creative because they can empower themselves to make up their own rules related to the values or principles.
Recently my son was being bullied which resulted in his coat being torn. He was afraid of telling me or the teachers because he didn’t want to be ostracised from his group of friends. When I found out, instead of being angry or telling him that he should have reported it, we had a discussion about bullying and why it is bad for everyone, including the bully. He now understands how he will deal with it in the future. We agreed that this is to be done progressively and according to the situation. This may mean he ignores it if the bullying behaviour is small (or a just a ‘friendly tease’); if it is not, he tells the other child to stop, or he gets his friends together to help him with the situation and then finally if it does not stop, to get the teacher to intervene. I am not there in the school with him but as long as he remembers the principle that ‘bullying is bad for everyone’, then he can deal with it by making his own rules and boundaries of what is acceptable to him.
The more rules there are at home, the more the risk they will be broken and followed by disappointment, anger and even retribution. According to a study in a book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant, children who scored in the top 5% in creativity tended to come from households with, on average, less than one rule. The families of kids who were less creative typically had six rules. The parents who talked to their children about principles leaving them to make up their own rules, found that the children were able to internalise that principle very well and find their own way around the world, instead of the parent ‘micro-managing’ them. ‘Instead of enforcing them, [creative] parents got their children to endorse the rules themselves because they helped to generate them’, according to Grant. I had parents who loved us but always tended to help us out while dealing with problems. It is only now that I am learning about the world and dealing with the difficulties it presents. So now I am determined not to do everything for my children, because I love them.