Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Theory

Williamsburg, 2016

Have you read this article, on 'How to raise a creative child'?

It resonated with me, not least because we have been having a lot of talks about future schools for the kids as well as just how much emphasis we should be placing on so-called enrichment activities outside of school.

It may sound premature given the ages of our children, but in New York people begin a crazy round of school applications for Pre-K when their kids are three, which means we had to make our decisions for Axel back in November.

We're really happy with our choice, but it can be unnerving to see other parents prepping their kids for the city's 'gifted and talented' program, something that involves workbooks and what amount to baby SAT problems, or battling through the admissions process at some of the city's very academic schools. It's nuts! Even if you don't want to go that route, it can make you panic and think, 'Should we be teaching our three year old Mandarin and piano, STAT?'

Anyway, the Times piece struck me, because it made me think a lot about our parenting style. I've been reading a lot of work by Dr. Laura Markham lately (and she happens to be anti-discipline.) 

Here's what the Times says: 

"So what does it take to raise a creative child? One study compared the families of children who were rated among the most creative 5 percent in their school system with those who were not unusually creative. The parents of ordinary children had an average of six rules, like specific schedules for homework and bedtime. Parents of highly creative children had an average of fewer than one rule." 
When psychologists compared America’s most creative architects with a group of highly skilled but unoriginal peers, there was something unique about the parents of the creative architects: “Emphasis was placed on the development of one’s own ethical code."

It's that last part that we talk a lot about at home. How to foster values without resorting to threats and rewards. The idea being that you should learn that hitting your brother is bad because it hurts him, not because you'll get a sticker or a gummy bear if you don't (or a time out if you do.) 

It may sound crazy, but we don't have a lot of rules at home and I find that when I do resort to a more old school 'Do it because I say so' style of parenting, the kids' behavior actually worsens. So it's interesting to see that a focus on teaching empathy rather than issuing edicts from on high actually works pretty well, according to 'Science'. 

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