The Parenting Coach: Fostering Creativity in Our Children

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gilabrown110BY GILA BROWN, M.A.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit the Sonoma Ashram in California, where the following story was relayed to me.  The ashram supports Bal Ashram, an orphanage in Varanasi, India.  While the orphanage and adjoining school maintain a high quality education (including wireless internet), the children are not given toys.  In the absence of any manufactured toys, a 7-year-old boy happened upon a plastic bag.  Within a few minutes and with the help of some creativity and ingenuity, the boy had fashioned the bag into a kite.  He flew the kite for almost half and hour, at which point he grew tired of the activity.  Pulling down the kite, he dismantled it and, shortly thereafter had turned it into a small ball, with which he continued to play.

By today’s standards we are likely to pity a boy whose only toy was a plastic bag and some string.  Our tendency is to want our children to have all that we did not.  We want to give them a happy life and, by today’s measures, that is quantified by material goods and toys.

However, consider the child who was given a purchased kite and a purchased ball.  He did not need to develop his ingenuity to discover the basic laws of geometry and physics.  He did not need to learn about the appropriate ratio of string to plastic in order to get the kite airborne.  He did not have to struggle with the delicate art of attaching the string to the bag without tearing it.  And, he did not enjoy the satisfaction of flying his own creation.  What other opportunities are we denying our children by providing them with an abundance of toys and material goods?

We all want our children to be happy and our instinct is to correlate happiness with an easy life.  However, through our own adult experiences, we have all come to see, at one time or another, that the greatest learning comes out of struggle.  When we face challenges we are forced to grow in order to overcome them.  It’s be said ‘Don’t wish for an easier life, wish for a better capacity and capability to ease through greater challenges with elegance”. Rather than attempting to create a life free from challenges for our children, perhaps a greater gift would be to raise them with the wherewithal, the courage and the creativity to face whatever comes their way.

As the holiday season rolls around, I encourage you to reevaluate the quantity of material gifts that are usually purchased for our children this time of year

For further info about  Bal Ashram and educational service projects: http://www.sonomaashram.org/india_service_projects_bal_ashram.php

Gila Brown, M.A. is a Child Development Expert and Parent Coach, with over 10 years of teaching experience. She specializes in parenting school-age children with grace, using principles of attachment parenting, positive disciple and effective communication. Visit www.GilaBrown.com to sign up for a free newsletter.

© Gila Brown, 2009

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.