The Washington Times-Herald


November 23, 2013

Imagination and creativity - it's a brain thing


Step 1 – is to demonstrate that you value imagination and creativity. If a parent values it, so will the child. It’s that simple. Where and how do you spend your free time? Do you spend it on creative adventures – together – that are eye opening and allow the imagination to run wild? Scouting at any level or age serves up eye opening opportunities that demonstrate and encourage creativity and healthy interaction.

Step 2 – requires some observation. What activities really attract your son or daughter? As a dad, we all want our son to be a sports star. Our schools and society have geared themselves to this, but seriously, what are the visual, verbal and non-verbal information we receive from our children. Very few sons become the local, let alone national, sports stars. It’s a nice dream but sometimes we need to simply observe the patterns and then trust our intuition.

If you have to make them practice or play, observation is telling you something! If your child leans towards visual arts then encourage it, if they are movement-oriented then give them space to move. Scouting offers a focused, time tested, program that can satisfy an observed need, we just need to take the time to look. Do not be afraid to go with the grain of what you see and foster your child’s observed passion.

Finally, Step 3 – is all about feeding the young mind. Creativity flourishes when kids are in the right state of mind. Without being to clinical, there are two relevant brain states, “pause and plan” and “fight or flight.” In the former, the body sends nutrients to the part of the brain where creativity is housed. In the latter, nutrients go to other parts of the brain and creativity gives way to instinctual action. Studies reveal it is really all about reducing stress to boost creativity. One way to do that is to reduce the pressure to perform and achieve, something kids face all too much these days in the classroom, on the court and field. All kids are placed under these stressors but only a select few will ever rise above. Achieving a balance between the system and our own observations is necessary.

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