The Creativity Key
Aug 03, 2016 01:30AM
● By Lorraine Elmo
Every year, the world seems to broaden its spectrum of oddities, illnesses, unusual trends and unnecessary tragedies. The world is so different now, and children are often exposed to too much too soon. They are expected to do and be more than their developmental stages allow. As parents, we are responsible for raising and guiding our children to make the best choices in life. However, we can no longer teach them based on what we learned, because our pasts are so different from their realities.
What then is the best way to cope in a world that’s gotten so strange and out of control? How do we teach our children to make the best choices when they are surrounded by peers making poor choices? There is one key action that will keep us surviving, thriving and striving most successfully: being creative.
Here are some tips for being creative in a memorable acronym. These tips apply to parents and children of all ages.
E: Express Gratitude
Creativity resides at the core of our being. Expressing our creativity makes us grow as a person and collectively evolve as a society. Being creative takes tremendous courage, and is something we must decide to do. We need to honor and channel our feelings through our creativity, whether it is writing in a journal, singing about our emotions, penning a poem, painting a picture, or even baking a chocolate lava cake when we’re erupting with anger. It is a powerful ally in the war against anxiety and depression.
For parents, encourage children to express themselves through creativity. They may not always have the words to describe their feelings, so give them the opportunity to express and identify themselves in other artistic, tactile or experiential ways.
For parents of young children, reserve a 30-minute period of time each day to completely indulge in a child’s playful silliness. Let them take the lead, follow and mirror their every move. Do not take the focus off the child; by letting their intuitive inspiration lead, the creativity bursting inside both of you might be unleashed.
Being creative is a two-fold process of giving and receiving. Most people do not recognize or value the skill of receiving. When someone compliments us for something we’ve created, receive the admiring comments as we all touch lives through our creativity. Relish in it. Enjoy it. Do not diminish or deny the compliment by saying, “Oh no, it’s not very good. I don’t know what I’m doing.” Just say thank you. Receiving someone’s kindness is not only a gift to us, it is a gift to the giver. We are allowing them to give to us out of the kindness of their heart. Model being able to receive graciously to children, and they will learn to do the same.
Movement and muscle strengthening through resistive exercises are important for every aspect of development and healing. Exercise improves mood, regularity, digestion and sleep. It helps us look, feel and move better. Exercising regularly helps you live longer. If physical pain is present, make sure to get referred to a physical therapist for instructions on the most appropriate stretches and strengthening exercises. Make exercise a part of the daily routine. Our bodies are the vehicles that channel our creativity and we must keep our creative vessels strong.
Self-actualization is a critical rite of passage in our lives. We can help unlock the creative process by taking the time to capitalize on our strengths as well as recognize and improve our weaknesses. When our longstanding internal layers of resistance are identified, understood and released, it is then possible to access the creative layers within. Psychotherapy, life coaching, and the practice of mindfulness and meditation can aide in this process.
Using tech-savvy skills to start a webpage or website to share and post about personal journeys can be helpful and healing. Post real stories about real people that will touch lives and inspire others to have strength and courage beyond what they thought was possible. Post about and share unique talents and gifts to connect with like-minded people.
Knowledge is power. What areas of our lives need balancing? What would we like to do better? Think of three skills to develop to stimulate the intellectual palate and feed our brain with knowledge that will enrich our lives.
For parents, make learning fun. Spend time learning with the children, and show them the ways we put forth effort to learn and grow beyond our comfort zones.
Sing! Sing in the shower, at church or while cleaning. Sing along to favorite songs on the radio. Children love to sing. It is a great way to learn, and is much more memorable than just being told what to do. Think back to how we learned the alphabet or event the state names from songs.
Singing is also meditative. In chanting meditation, the vibrations elicited from singing “om” are healing to different chakras in our bodies. Songs do not have to be made of words, simply the act of making sounds—even silly ones—is both a form of creative play and one of release.
The most important and healing part of creativity is the end result of being thankful and expressing gratitude for these gifts. Count blessings and focus on the positive everyday moments. Recognize and compliment others for their creative efforts. Never stop praising children for their creative expressions; there is no such thing as too much gratitude.
Get into the habit of naming three positive personal attributes about ourselves to counter negative thoughts that enter our minds. If a child has difficulty recognizing his or her positive attributes, make it a point to counter their negative self-talk with positive feedback. Encourage them to do this for themselves. By expressing gratitude to our children, we can be a model for them to do the same.
Being kind, paying it forward, giving back and being charitable are all expressions of gratitude. Always say thank you.
As parents, we must first choose to be creative, and to heal and center ourselves. With a strong foundation of love and trust and examples of our positive, creative expressions, our children are more likely to make good choices in an ever-changing world.
Lorraine Elmo, a pediatric occupational therapist residing in Trumbull, is also a breast cancer survivor who leads a private support group for breast cancer survivors. Follow her creative songs, poems and positive posts on Facebook at Lorraine’s Big Pink Adventure.