Bryan is a best selling author, child behavior expert and consultant, internationally recognized speaker on challenging behaviors and attachment issues, and founder of The Post Institute for Family Centered Therapy.
Kristi was a problem child by all standards of society. She was impulsive, immature, did poorly in school, and struggled mightily with her peers and family. She had a natural bent for the mechanical, always longing to put things back together after tearing them apart, but she didn’t realize that Barbie’s little head wouldn’t reattach to her body after it was pulled off. Of course, her parents were upset to see this destruction of an expensive toy.
Kristi was exceptionally bright in areas such as math and mechanics, but not nearly as gifted in areas such as peer relationships and family harmony, where she encountered significant conflict and rejection.
As an adult, she didn’t become a math professor, an auto mechanic, successful engineer, or accountant. She even struggled with tasks such as making ends meet and attempting to raise her own children. What, you might ask, happened to the young girl with the natural bent for the mechanical and mathematical? We know so little about nurturing dynamically creative children. Kristi and kids like her simply need us to provide the canvas, and they will provide the rest. But why do we struggle to provide a mere canvas?
Creativity is an emotional process that comes naturally to us all as children. Brain research demonstrates that in the earliest years of life, we are mostly emotionally driven, creative people. Over time, an enormous shift occurs in the brain in which the emotional window of expression gets smaller, and the more popular cognitive/rational window of expression begins to take precedence. In this state, the crying and demanding begins to cease. The constant need diminishes, and the child becomes more independent. Of course, adults prefer children in this state because it allows us to pursue our own adult worries of work, bills, dinner, and so on. But this is where we begin to lose. Through a series of daily vibration patterns and repetitious, mundane experiences, we transmit instructions to our children to help them fit into society. This ensures that when others gaze on our children, they will be a wonderful reflection of the job we have done as parents. Rather than nurturing the creativity of our kids and merely providing the blank canvas for them to express themselves, we suppress their emotional urges with attempts to condition them to society’s rules and regulations. Slowly, we begin to wonder, “What happened to my little singer, artist, actor, or dancer?”
For parents interested in caring and nurturing the creative spirit within their children, here are a few tips and guidelines that I’ve gathered during my years of traveling, lecturing, writing, and providing family therapy throughout the world:
Determine what matters most to your child. Creativity can be expressed in every way, not merely the performing arts. Watch your child, and she will guide you to her interests. Foster greater support in these areas over all others—not sole support, but greater support. Allow more time to be spent in the areas of interests and strengths rather than the areas of struggle. This will build greater self-esteem and will support your child as she completes other tasks that she finds more mundane or challenging.
Recognize your own fears. We parents are fearful about how our children will be perceived by society. We try to deceive ourselves and say that only our children’s happiness matters, but most parents are worried about what others will think. None of the people “out there” really matter. The single most important thing is your relationship with your child. That one dynamic element will last a lifetime. Remember that you aren’t likely to ever see the stranger at Wal-Mart again.
Encourage, encourage, encourage. Make sure that you slow down and give ample time to your child’s whims and fancies. A firefighter today will be a doctor tomorrow and a crime scene investigator the next. It doesn’t matter what it is; encourage, and as you do, you will nurture the seeds from which happiness blossoms.
- Remember that she is only a child. Love her for the child that she is. She will have many years to face a world of cynics and critics, fakes and frauds, so fill her full of love that ensures that she can always bounce back from her failures because she knows she is okay on the inside. The stuff that matters is what’s on the inside because it’s where the lessons you provide will be stored.
By the way, Kristi is my sister.
Bryan Post is a best-selling author, internationally renowned speaker, and psychotherapist specializing in attachment, adoption and trauma. To learn more about Parenting Challenging Children, Oxytocin the Love Hormone, Mindfulness, and How to Thrive instead of just survive as an adoptive or foster parent, visit www.postinstitute.com, www.oxytocincentral.com, and www.reactiveattachmentdisorderparenting.com. To find out more about Bryan Post’s ground breaking parenting program Parenting Attachment Challenged Children “Hands-On” Home Study Course visit www.postinstitute.com/AttachmentDisorder. Join our Facebook page for daily parenting help and inspiration, videos, articles and contests along with other parents and professionals just like yourself. Also visit our Blog at www.bryanpost.com.
This article is courtesy of the Top 1% Club and the Top 1% Club Mentor Gail Kasper. For additional information on Gail Kasper, her television appearances and speaking engagements, please visit gailkasper.com.