Many children have amazing creative potential that is yet to be identified. Kids who play incredible music, paint amazing paintings, and invent astonishing inventions are obviously creative. But there are others whose creative genius is every bit as powerful, yet appears in more subtle ways and can even be mistaken for problematic.
Such kids do not try to be incorrigible; they have creative forces running through them that resist being suppressed. Highly creative personalities are often incompatible with the routines of everyday life and the typical school expectations.
These kids need outlets for channeling and expressing their creative talents. You can help by letting them know you believe their creativity is important, offering them tasks that challenge creative thought, and by rewarding them for their creative accomplishments.
This is a partial list of characteristics found in highly creative children, compiled from several studies such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and others as cited by E. Paul Torrance in his groundbreaking book, Guiding Creative Talent. Our leading educational psychologists often reference Torrance’s research. He wrote:
“I … compiled the following list of characteristics found in one or more studies to differentiate highly creative persons from less creative ones.”
See if you recognize a child who has many of the characteristics on the checklist below.
• Accepts disorder
• Always baffled by something
• Attracted to the mysterious
• Becomes preoccupied with a problem or idea
• Cannot stop working on a creative endeavor
• Decides his or her own values
• Deep and conscientious convictions
• Defies conventions of courtesy
• Doesn’t fear being thought “different”
• Fault finder
• Feels whole parade is out of step
• Has unusual ideas
• Highly curious
• Independence in judgment and thinking
• Keeps unusual hours
• Likes solitude
• Not interested in small details
• Not popular
• Oddities of habit
• Prefers to learn on his or her own
• Rejection of repression
• Sense of humor
• Sensitivity to beauty
• Shuns power
• Sometimes attempts tasks that are too difficult
• Strives for distant goals
• Tends to reject authority
• Unconcerned about power
• Unwilling to accept anything on mere say-so
• Willing to take risks
• Work is its own reward
The above list includes many wonderful traits and many that are usually considered negative by society’s conformist standards. If you value creativity, you’ll view all the traits as characteristics that come with the territory, however difficult to manage.
Educators and parents often grapple with the discrepancies between what students can do and what they will do. Because highly creative children tend to be resistant to authority, what they will do (or not) is challenging. Try exercising your own creativity in providing a less restrictive environment that allows for more creative expression. In all likelihood, someday that special personality will become a great achiever in life and career.