Building Creative Confidence

Children's artworkWritten by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

IDEO company founder David Kelley was featured in a 60 Minutes special this past week. I found his approach to business so intriguing. Whenever I watch a leader whom I admire, I probably look at things from a slightly different angle than most. I am always striving to understand how what we do in the early years reaps real rewards for children when they are older. I hit the jackpot with David Kelley when I found a speech he made on TED about how to build creative confidence. I hope you will take the time to watch it. ( He says that everyone can be creative. A person who doesn’t feel creative has probably been shut down by someone saying that s/he was not creative at some point along the way – her coloring wasn’t good enough, his project didn’t turn out well, or her idea wasn’t that great.

I want our educators and families to be reminded that WHAT we do each day and WHY we do it will have a tremendous impact on our society. We stress the importance of nurturing in our children a love of learning and exploration; and we encourage creativity by removing as many barriers as possible. Research supports everything we do – open-ended art, both child- and adult-initiated experiences, small- and large-group activities, technology that is social and interactive, writing centers that allow the child to go at his own pace and never compare his skills to others … and the list goes on.

Our job as the adults in a child’s world is to awaken, inspire, and ignite her creativity. That’s why it is so critical that the early years are filled with successful experiences. We do not know who the child will become, but we do know that each child is naturally more gifted in some areas than others. Childhood is a time when children should be allowed to explore anything and everything with no judgment. They should be allowed to touch, smell, build, discover, and experiment in a positive environment. We must keep their world as friendly and non-judgmental as possible. And because harmful words from their peers can shut down children’s creativity just as fast as those from adults, we must teach them how to be respectful and kind to each other.

We are shaping our world. What we as parents do in our homes each day matters. Feed these tender, young souls with inspiring words. Build your child’s (and your spouse’s, for that matter) creative confidence by saying something positive about what they dare to create or a new idea they may have. If there is a problem, work together to correct it.  If you have discipline issues with your school-age child, involve him in setting up the rules and consequences. He is very creative and can be a part of the solution.

David Kelley said that his life goal is to build creative confidence in others. I think it is a very worthy goal because having creative confidence leads to confidence in so many other areas in life. Let’s help him by beginning early and building it in the children we touch.

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