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The Creative Kid: A Personality Apart

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. 

  1. Accepts disorder
  2. Adventurous
  3. Always baffled by something
  4. Attracted to the mysterious
  5. Becomes preoccupied with a problem or idea
  6. Cannot stop working on a creative endeavor
  7. Courageous
  8. Decides his or her own values
  9. Deep and conscientious convictions
  10. Defies conventions of courtesy
  11. Determination
  12. Discontented
  13. Doesn’t fear being thought “different”
  14. Emotional
  15. Fault finder
  16. Feels whole parade is out of step
  17. Has unusual ideas
  18. Highly curious
  19. Independence in judgment and thinking
  20. Keeps unusual hours
  21. Likes solitude
  22. Not interested in small details
  23. Not popular
  24. Oddities of habit
  25. Prefers to learn on his or her own
  26. Rejection of repression
  27. Self-starter
  28. Sense of humor
  29. Sensitivity to beauty
  30. Shuns power
  31. Sometimes attempts tasks that are too difficult
  32. Strives for distant goals
  33. Stubborn
  34. Temperamental
  35. Tenacious
  36. Tends to reject authority
  37. Unconcerned about power
  38. Unwilling to accept anything on mere say-so
  39. Willing to take risks
  40. 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.

Flickr photo courtesy ND Strupler. Image editing by Marty Safir

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Reader Comments (2)

We have five kids, and I'd like to say we're encouraging them to be creative by weening them off TV. We let them listen to audiobooks instead. It's way more engaging. There's lots of sites where you can download them, but we use this one a lot because their stories are free and original. And the kids really like them. Here's the link if anyone is interested.

March 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterduncan

I admire your style of parenting! Audio books are wonderful for kids because the listeners must imagine the scenarios. The website you mentioned has a lot of good ideas.
Thank you for commenting.

March 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterMarjorie Sarnat
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