Want to build resilience in your kids? Give them creative training

September 08, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

Parents always have a concern about making their children resilient and strong enough to face life’s problems. Here’s the key, creativity lessons during their early school years cultivates their resilience to face real-life problems more smoothly.

In a short study, researchers taught students in third, fourth, and fifth grade how to employ literary devices like viewpoint shifting, counterfactual (what if) thinking, and causal (why) thinking to increase their creativity when solving problems.

According to primary study author and professor of English at Ohio State University, Angus Fletcher, who is also a member of the university’s Project Narrative, the strategies assisted children in coming up with fresh, imaginative, and useful solutions to problems.

Creativity training can help kids come up with a second plan

“There are concerns about the resiliency of American children in the wake of COVID-19 and this sense that many kids are having a hard time in school and in life,” Fletcher said.

“Creativity training can help kids come up with a second plan when things aren’t working out for them.”

The Journal of Creativity recently released the findings.

The programme used to assist children in this study, according to Fletcher, was similar to one he and his colleagues successfully employed with the U.S. Army, earning Fletcher the Public Service Commendation Medal, the fourth-highest public service honour the Army can bestow upon a civilian.

Perspective-shifting helps in bringing an effective solution to problems

Two different experiments were conducted by the researchers on youngsters attending a summer camp in a suburb of Columbus.

32 students were divided into two groups for one research. The students were instructed to name a special quality about themselves in the control condition. They were informed that this unique ability could assist them in resolving any issue.

In the creative condition, the students were instructed to consider a friend who had accomplished something noteworthy and to consider that acquaintance to be their “creative friend” who could assist them in resolving any issue. Perspective-shifting is a method of developing the creative thinking of children in which they examine a situation from the viewpoint of another person.

“When you ask people to shift their perspective and imagine receiving advice from a friend, you get a lot more creative and effective solutions to problems than just trying to solve the problem yourself,” Fletcher said.

And the research confirmed that. In one section of the survey, teachers mentioned a challenge that their children faced, such as missing a friend’s birthday celebration because they’ll be traveling with their parents.

Students also thought about a challenging problem in their own lives. Some problems that were mentioned included “my brother has a communication disorder,” “my dad must be away for two months” and “my sister bullies me.”

According to the findings, less than half of the kids were able to offer a solution to the age-typical difficulties, and nearly none of them were able to do so for their personal problems without the perspective-shift training.

However, 94% of those who had received perspective-shifting training offered an answer to each problem.

Creativity training can boost children’s sense of self-efficacy

The judges, who were teachers with training, also gave the kids’ ideas a creativity score based on how unexpected or original they were.

For those who received the perspective-shifting intervention, the average creativity score was 6.44 out of 10 (moderate creativity), as opposed to 3.05 (poor creativity) for those who did not.

According to Fletcher, these findings demonstrated how creative training may increase children’s feeling of self-efficacy—the conviction that they had some degree of control and authority over their own lives.

Most of the kids who received the intervention thought of a potential solution to their own concerns. However, 15 out of 16 kids in the control group essentially gave up, according to Fletcher. They either said they lacked the knowledge necessary to solve the issue or exhibited some form of magical thinking, such as asserting that they could transform into a superhero.

Step back and say why does this matter?

28 children from the same camp participated in a second longitudinal study to examine the impact of a five-day, ten-hour narrative creativity curriculum on creativity, self-efficacy, and resilience.

The students received training in other methods of story invention, such as causal thinking, in addition to perspective-shifting, according to Fletcher.

“If children can’t solve a problem, we train them to back up and think about what they are trying to accomplish — the why problem,” Fletcher said.

“Step back and say why does this matter? We often find that if you think more broadly about what you are trying to accomplish, and why it is so important, then you can see there are other ways of getting what you want.”

Effect of narrative creative training

At the conclusion of the curriculum, the kids looked at one of their own concerns and were given age-appropriate problems like the previous study.

When the kids presented their recommended solution to their difficulties, the researchers gave them an unexpected challenge to see how resilient they were: they informed the youngsters it wouldn’t work.

As a result of participating in the five-day curriculum, every kid was able to offer a backup solution to both age-typical and individual difficulties, according to the findings.

“With this training, the children were unfazed by being told their first solution didn’t work. They came up with a second plan, which is a good test of resilience,” Fletcher said.

The judges gave the second solution to the problems an average creativity score of 7.5, which was moderate to high creativity, as opposed to 5.45 for the first solution.

The second option also received higher marks for utility, which measures how probable it is that it will work in practise.

According to Fletcher, this study offers a reassuring message: There are steps we can take to help kids deal with their issues.

“We are at this moment in our society where our kids need help. We found that before this training, kids had this propensity to just give up when faced with problems. That could lead them to get angry, or embarrassed that they can’t solve their problems, or look for adults to offer solutions.”

According to him, narrative creativity training can help kids learn that there are other ways to address real-world issues that don’t have simple solutions.

Kids can learn creativity through arts

If done properly, Fletcher claimed, children can acquire creativity through the arts, including literature and theatre. Teachers might encourage students to envision themselves as various characters, explore new viewpoints, and engage in why- and what-if-thinking rather than just asking them to analyse works of art.

“The ability to use this type of thinking can’t be assessed via standardized tests. But it is still very important and can help children use and grow their creativity to solve real-world challenges,” he said.

Together with Mike Benveniste, another member of Project Narrative, and Patricia Enciso, a professor of literature for children and young adults in the College of Education and Human Ecology at Ohio State, Fletcher performed the study.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Ohio State University. Original written by Jeff Grabmeier. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Angus Fletcher, Patricia Enciso, Mike Benveniste. Narrative creativity training: A new method for increasing resilience in elementary students. Journal of Creativity, 2023; 33 (3): 100061 DOI: 10.1016/j.yjoc.2023.100061

Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. “Want to increase resiliency in kids? Teach creativity.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 August 2023. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/08/230822111639.htm>.

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