Creative Child

7 Things Creative Children Do Differently

by Deborah Song

To understand what creative children do differently, it’s first important to define what creativity is. Most people believe creativity is something that’s hardwired into your genes, something you are. You’ll often hear it expressed in refrains like, ‘He’s the creative one in the family,’ or ‘I don’t have a creative bone in my body.’ Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert describes creativity not as something you are, but rather something that flows through you. Not only does this view mirror the perspective that most of human civilization’s had about creativity for generations, but it takes the pressure off to constantly be creative; it allows more freedom to think, ponder, and create.

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Having interviewed some of today's most enterprising kids, what I’ve discovered is that creative children have adopted key habits that enable them to go from creative insight to creative output. Here are 7 things creative children do differently.

1. They maintain a playful attitude.

Creative children maintain an open, playful mind. Science has now confirmed that hybrid forms of work and play may actually provide the most optimal context for learning and creativity. Cultivating a childlike sense of play is one of the traits creative adult geniuses employ, too, because playfulness provides lightness and flexibility when generating new ideas. Playfulness also helps kids work steadily towards a goal without becoming stressed or depleted. It keeps them from giving up too soon. In other words, playfulness is the portal to persistence.

2. They prioritize.

Between schoolwork, soccer practice, cub scouts and the overall chaos of being shuttled around from one activity to the next, it may feel impossible to squeeze in a passion project. But creative children are decisive about what’s important. Prioritizing doesn’t mean finishing every single task on the radar. It means making a decision about what’s most important, getting the most important work done first, and letting the rest linger in the background.

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3. They monotask.

More and more, people are realizing that multitasking is less productive than paying attention to a single task. That’s because multitasking is really inefficient monotasking – you pick up one thing, then drop it really quickly, and pick up another task. The best results are instead achieved when we focus on one task without distraction. A new study published in the journal Psychological Science reveals that people who were asked to remember less gave more creative and imaginative responses. Overloading your brain diminishes memory and creativity. Monotasking or being mindful was even found to shrink the brain’s amygdala, which leads to happier moods and more engaged attention and learning. Change your thoughts, and maybe you can change your brain too.

4. They daydream.

Far from being idle, daydreaming (or meditating) is actually a very active mental state where the mind consolidates memories, imagines the future, finds meaning and makes connections. We tend to find the solutions that we’ve been searching for not when we’re sitting in front of the computer or doing homework, but when the mind is occupied elsewhere like walking the dog or taking a shower. In daydreaming, creative kids connect dots and get in touch with their own unique perspective, which is the very essence of creativity.

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