Don’t be afraid to enlist the creative genius your kids can offer… well, be a little afraid.
Like a lot of families, we took our kids to a pumpkin patch at the first signs of fall. We all thought it would be fun to pick out individual white pumpkins, because they would be easy to paint them into jack-o-lanterns or whatever else caught their imagination (a.k.a. creative genius). Unfortunately, Halloween arrived sooner than expected, so we never got around to painting our spooky pumpkins.
November blew in. New plan: they can paint their pumpkins using the colors of autumn, and then they can write what they are thankful for on them. Great idea, right? It could have been…
Fall continued to pass one hectic day at a time, and Thanksgiving came and went without a single brush stroke on a pumpkin. For more than two months, we had seven white mini pumpkins laying all around the kitchen. As you can imagine, they clashed with the Christmas decor.
December 23rd arrived; we were expecting our extended family the following evening for our annual Christmas Eve party at our house. Because I was at a loss about what to do with these living fall decorations, I gave the problem over to my kids (and honestly, I had bigger dilemmas to solve). I explained that I didn’t want to throw away the pumpkins, but I didn’t want them laying around the kitchen either.
Their solution? To make snowmen out of them!
The kids came up with several creative ideas for the arms and noses; with a little hot glue and accessories, we pulled it off! They had a few other… let’s just call them “wildly imaginative” ideas that gave us a few laughs along the way.
Allow kids to use their Creative Genius their way once in a while.
There are plenty of opportunities for kids to lend their insight and input (even if it’s silly) to daily decisions and problems. The trick is to not expect perfection- we didn’t get ‘it’ right the first time, our kids won’t either. Some mundane activities for adults are interesting problems for kids: putting away the leftovers is a fun Tetris challenge (at least it would be if kids knew what Tetris was). Of course, kids need guides and pointers along the way. The time they spend problem solving on things that aren’t terribly important is still terribly important.
Training our brains to work at finding creative solutions can only help in the future.
Charles Duhigg, credited for writing a comprehensive book on productivity, learned from General Charles Krulak’s struggle to turn “wet socks” (young recruits) into Marines in 1995. In an interview about his book, Duhigg said:
“In the research, there’s this question of, how do people learn that they have power over themselves and their surroundings? How do they learn to strengthen the locus of control? One of the best ways to do that is to force people into the habit of making choices, particularly to teach them how to find and make choices that make them feel in control.”
What “minor detail” can you hand over for your kids to solve today?
I don’t often take the time to give the kids the time they need to make choices or express their ideas fully, but when I do, they surprise me with their useful creative genius!