So how do we help them? Model behaviours and play beside them so that they can mimic and learn. Let them use trial and error. Yes, they must do it for themselves. For instance, they could try and use a stick to stir their drink, then realise that it tastes horrible. This is where you come in. Prompt them with inquiry questions: “Why does it taste yucky? Maybe try something different next time to stir your drink. What do you think you could use?”. Or, “How could you make it so that the stick is cleaner?” Their answers might surprise you. Let them experiment and their problem-solving skills will develop as well as their creativity. The key is to guide their thinking with questions, not only answers. It’s a balancing act, for sure, but worth the thought.
Another important aspect of innovation is FAILURE. Allowing them to fail will increase their ability to innovate. They need to learn how to problem-solve the issues and “get back on the horse”, so to speak. This can be frustrating for them, but a very important tool for all 4-year-olds. Crying and tantrums are part of the learning process, however providing support, such as having a cuddle ready with the words, “You can do it, try again!”, as well as sticking by them as they work through the issues at hand, will enable them to understand the process. Believe me, each time they go through it, it gets easier. I think the hardest part of being a parent is to watch them fail, however one of the most rewarding is seeing them succeed after trying so hard. Remember to praise them when they succeed, as they will value this praise most highly. You could say, “You worked so hard, I’m so proud of you”, or ‘Wow, how good does it feel to get that finished? I love how you stuck to it. What an achievement.”
Positive encouragement, allowing children to fail and teaching them the skills they need to achieve, all work together to produce innovative, creative kids.
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