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Embrace the Weird in Your Kids!

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Not embracing the weirdness in your children limits their creativity, and stunts their potential for greatness!

Albert Einstein was thought to have a low IQ by his parents, due to his habit of loudly whispering to himself before he spoke out loud. Besides being socially-awkward, it took him fairly longer to speak than the other children.

Besides Einstein, there are thousands of other mentionable geniuses (e.g. Mozart, Salvador Dali, Picasso) who were known for their extreme behavioural quirks or weirdness, but somehow these individuals were lucky enough to supersede the limitations of parental judgments and stifled upbringing, and rise to greatness.

Not all children are lucky that way, but they can be. Their parents simply need to become aware, and then put their awareness into practice.

In many cases, parents who feel that the reason their child does not act entirely ‘normal’ is due to a mental-handicap, and so he or she needs somehow to be fixed or reshaped socially and psychologically. Sadly, such parents, in many cases unknowingly put a great deal of pressure on the child to change his or her ways, which will not only lead to the suspension of their child’s creativity, but also a breakdown in their sense of self-acceptance and self esteem, as many children who are highly creative are highly perceptive, and therefore highly sensitive as well. In this way, the child’s creativity is often ‘sold’ as a mental handicap by doctors, such as in the case of many children with autism, attention-deficit and bi-polar tendencies, amongst other behavioural disorders.

Correlations between creativity and mental illness

Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry, Dr. Albert Rothenberg, has been studying creativity and its possible links to mental illness for decades, by looking at cases of bi-polar disorder, schitzophrenia, and depression and correlations at the neural and cell and molecular levels. Through years of clinical trials, he has found no direct link (causation) between creativity and mental illness.

Acceptance and compassion help creativity

If you consider the brain’s holistic way of functioning both within and in-between individuals, we can say that a lack of acceptance (manifested in many instances as lack of recognition by parents towards their children) can severely stunt if not damage a child’s potential for creative greatness.

Dr. Daniel Siegel, world-renown psychiatrist and director of Mindsight Institute at UCLA, brings to light that many adults or parents project their perceptions and performance expectations onto their children, which only create more blocks for the child’s mental and psycho-social development and wellbeing. In his book Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, he recounts a study that shows children whose teachers were informed of their ‘disability’ or insufficient aptitude by their parents, performed significantly worse in school, compared to those children whose teachers had no such informants. The teachers, as it is human to do, projected the ‘lower intelligence quotient factor’ onto these children.

In contrast, studies have shown now for years, that even if the child is only nurtured and supported emotionally, and not necessarily remediated academically, he or she performs better in school, and in cognitive activities in general.
A supporting environment (instead of a hostile one) is likely to boost the confidence of a child and empower him or her to accept himself in all of his or her weirdness, thereby facilitate his or her potentially outside-of-the-box thinking or creative processes, as opposed to trying to push him or her into a ‘perfect’ box.

As Dr. Brené Brown, Research Professor of social work at University of Houston, and best-selling author, points out

“It is not our job as parents to keep our children perfect, rather our job is to say,

You know what? You are imperfect, and wired for struggle. But you are worthy of love and belonging”

It is this sense of belonging that we, not just our children vie for.  And in all fairness, if the child’s so-called weirdness is not harming himself or others, then why not do our best to understand it, and embrace it, as a unique expression of their DNA, and potentially something we can learn from.

Finally, it is simply more efficient to incubate the weirdness in our children as it promotes and fuels their creative process.  It can therefore be said that embracing the weird is in a way doing service to humanity, as you never know what kind of genius lurks underneath all that weirdness.

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Sources:

Brown, B. (2011. January). The Power of Vulnerability. TEDxHouston. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCvmsMzlF7o

Rothenberg, A. (2015, March). Creativity and Mental Illness. Psychology Today. Retrieved from
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creative-explorations/201503/creativity-and-mental-illness

Sample, I. (2015, June). New study claims to find genetic link between creativity and mental illness. The Guardian.
Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/08/new-study-claims-to-find-genetic-link-between-creativity-and-mental-illness

Siegel, D.J. (2014). Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain. London, United Kingdom. Scribe Publications.

Woodward, B. (2018, June).
Creativity and Psychiatric Illness: Finding the Sweet Spot. Psychiatric Times. Vol 35. Issue 6. Retrieved from
http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/neuropsychiatry/creativity-and-psychiatric-illness-finding-sweet-spot

______. (2015. October). Albert Einstein’s childhood nickname was ‘the dopey one’. The Journal.ie.
Retrieved from https://www.thejournal.ie/life-of-albert-einstein-2406681-Oct2015/

Niki Fayaz

M.A, Initiator

Niki Fayaz is the founder of Terra Education and Development Consultants. She is a human rights activist, a social scientist, and yoga teacher, and she believes that we can create sustainable change in the world by first making positive shifts within ourselves.

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