Creativity and Childhood Self-Esteem


To set the stage for this blog, I want to put forth a definition of the subject at hand:  Self-esteem. By this we mean self-respect, or a confidence and satisfaction with oneself.   

Self-esteem is not a fixed measure. It ebbs and flows with time and experiences.  Each of us has our own self-esteem metric for various aspects of our being. At SPARK! we focus on the self-esteem that exists in a child. It is the gauge of their ability to learn, grow, create, problem-solve and perform in the world.

InMinding the Muse,” a book about creativity, author Priscilla Long shares, “Improving self-esteem is a matter of taking regular steps, no matter how small, to set goals to achieve what you intend to achieve ….”  

At SPARK! our teaching of the creative process helps children set goals, envision outcomes and take the steps needed to achieve that outcome.  Our proprietary definition of the creative process is Inspiration with Iteration and Collaboration leads to Innovation.  Inspiration is the impetus to start a project. Collaboration and Iteration are two valuable steps in working through trial, error and even failure. Lastly, the desired outcome is achieving Innovation.

Based on research around creative development, SPARK! programming focuses on children ages 7 -18.  During the early teen years, kids have a tough time figuring out who they are and where they fit in the world.  Helping them develop their creativity and their self-esteem can help smooth out some of the bumps in their path through puberty.  While boys and girls are quite different, their path through creativity can be similar.

“Challenge boys and allow them to develop skills. You throw boys as a group into a very challenging situation, and let them figure it out and find their own leadership. They’ll come back thinking, ‘We did it. We did it.’”   Michael Thompson, PhD, coauthor of Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.  “It involves creating a situation in which they can develop a skill and, as a result, will have self-esteem.”

Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, authors of The Confidence Code for Girls, surveyed 1,300 girls between the ages of 8 and 18.  Among the findings is a startling desire to be perfect.  At age 13, 45% of girls report feeling like they’re not allowed to fail.  Over half of teenage girls report pressure to be perfect. When this research was published in The Atlantic, the answer seemed to be getting girls accustomed to risk-taking and failure.

Engaging in the creative process meets the need for boys and girls.  It provides challenges, allows for risk taking and room for failure. It helps them persevere to accomplish work of which they can be proud.

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