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Does self-discipline stifle creativity?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


Employers want creative workers who have a strong understanding of basic subjects (math, science, and language arts) and a sound work ethic.


The creativity requirement has some parents worried. Until recently, originality was only required for art related jobs. In addition, many moms and dads have the perception that creativity comes from moments of unsolicited inspiration. If this is the way innovative thought happens, most kids would are not able to meet the requirement. There is also worry that self-discipline (a sound work ethic) and creativity are incompatible.


In the Information Age creativity is not limited to artistic and musical expression. It is essential for most disciplines including science, math and writing. Creative people are more flexible and better problem solvers. This means they are generally better able to adapt to technological advances and deal with change.


Creativity is not an inborn talent. It is a skill that can be taught.


In addition, creativity and self-discipline are linked. Few creations and innovations happen without effort. It takes a lot of work and time to prove a concept, create a new product, compose an award winning song, etc.


This means parents can and need to teach their kids how to be creative and self-disciplined.


To become creative thinkers, children need less canned entertainment (video games, movies, etc.) and more bits and pieces that can be pieced together to make things. Rocks, cardboard boxes, sand, sticks, string, glue, coffee cans, and fabric are good choices. With only these basic building blocks, kids have to use their imaginations to play and invent.


When the creations start, parents should praise originality, function, and beauty rather than comparing a child’s creations to objects that already exist. This type of praise gives children permission to explore new possibilities and deviate from the norm.


At the same time parents begin teaching their children how to think creatively they should begin instructing them on self-discipline. There are many opportunities to coach children on follow through and perseverence. Sometimes it means working every night after soccer practice to learn the skills necessary to earn a starting position. Other times it is finishing a math problem even though it takes two hours to complete. Or perhaps it is completing the mowing job before playing with friends.


Once a child has learned to think creatively and is self-disciplined, he/she should have the skills to succeed in the business world and to lead an interesting, rewarding life.


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