What can we learn from children’s freedom of creativity?

 May 6, 2020

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Children are associated with being able to flow with the moment, living in the present, and being able to feel and express their joy without being externally influenced. Their power for creativity stems from these ways of being in a state of freeness. It is a state associated with creating, which is accessible to everyone if we are ready to open to this child Being within us, discovering what it is and adapting it to our own lives.

Do you remember when you were a child and you were creating almost every time? There was not a moment that your hands would not get dirty from paint, stickers, glue or sand. You were probably also continuously encouraged to create, to imagine making something from different materials, to craft, to write freely about your thoughts and ideas around a subject. Your imagination was possibly limitless and you might have often made up imaginary worlds, people and events.

It is wide and well accepted that creativity for children boosts their ways of thinking and finding solutions to problems, having an open and fluid attitude. Creative activities help to raise awareness and celebrate the notion that children are unique and diverse at the same time. It encourages them to express themselves openly and without judgment.

As we grow out from being children, we start to conform to society, seeing creativity as time consuming, “childish”, not helpful for our daily lives. It also often leads to being scared of expressing ourselves freely, of being judged by others, of making mistakes. With time, we start to limit ourselves from trying out new things, stepping out from our comfort zones.

Our creative energies and ways do not dissipate however, they are only repressed within us. We limit ourselves with beliefs, and habitual patterns that we carry within us throughout the many years. Everyone is creative in different ways and with different skills.

The best way to reach back to the notion of creativity is to observe children. If we have children we can learn from them just by noticing how they are able to flow with things, moving from one state to the other without judgement. They “manage” to have fun and play with things, without taking them seriously or being afraid of making “mistakes”, and even when they do, they move on at ease.

This fluidity of being is the basic state that as adults, we too can reach into and bring out into our every days. When we are able to reach this state, we realize that doing things with this lightness and playfulness creates joy, which is truly powerful.

Faye Novak / Photo via Dorottya Novak
Faye Novak / Photo via Dorottya Novak

However strange it might sound, but one of the places where children first start to be distanced from their free flow of imagination is at the art classes, art related courses. Very often children are “forced” to draw and paint in schools. They are taught to draw or paint what they actually see, striving to give back exactly the same forms and colours as they see them. With time it becomes for many a constriction, and turns into a belief that one has no skills and talents to be creative.

Creating from within is unique and related more to the abstract way of visual expression. Since abstract expression is not linked to a specific form or vision, but rather the feeling and inner journey, it is closely linked to the free sense of creating. It allows to tap into the playful mode and the place where possibilities exist. Children use this inner movement spontaneously and automatically. Supporting this freedom in art and related classes in schools would greatly add to children not distancing from these subjects, and for them developing further their innate creativity in different areas too.

Encouraging, supporting and building upon abstract creativity leads to acceptance overall, of the process itself. It enhances the notion that everything we create in life is a process, happening from moment to moment, and layer upon layer. In contrast to our fast paced and demanding external influences in life, creating in this way strengthens the patience and resilience in children, which they will need in creating anything later in life too.

Being secure and grounded even in the unknown, not knowing the how, is the creative way to solutions that most of us loose over time.

Enhancing this knowing by supporting a conscious creative teaching and revisiting the arts in education may add to having less limiting beliefs around our creative capabilities, and our creative sense of coping with challenges in life as we grow up and become adults.

Faye Novak / Photo via Dorottya Novak
Faye Novak / Photo via Dorottya Novak

How can we return to the feeling of freedom with which we created as children, being child-like again? And how can we “unlearn” being attached to outcomes, exact forms, our needs to being perfect? It takes three things according to artist, photographer and author John Paul Caponigro to uncover our creativity: permission to uncover them, passion and persistence to do these things over time. According to him, everyone is born creative, it is not related only to being a genius or to having special talents.

There are different paths to bring out creativity in our lives, such as changing habits, taking time to notice changes in our environment, capturing moments through photos, being more in nature, taking walks, exposing oneself more to the arts, writing freely, playing with children and many more that open our “eyes” to seeing things differently.

Our creativity can come out in smaller things we do, like doodling, making different photos just for fun or writing down ideas as they come. Allowing these creative ways to flow and discovering more, leads to new ideas and playfulness.

Reconnecting with our child Being and having fun during this, leads us to opening up to new ideas and ways of appreciating our uniqueness and differences. Letting go of the need to wanting to know everything ahead, leads us to new and different ways where we might take risks, try out new things and strip away feelings of not being adequate or enough for them. As we dare to play and “unlearn” being attached to the usual way of being, releasing our need to be exact, we will appreciate more and more the “imperfect” creativity that lies within each one of us.

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