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Why Our Kids Need Junk, Time … & No Help From You

One summer, when I was about 9 years old, I was visiting my Granny and Pa, and decided that my cousins and I needed a clubhouse. So I began creating: I recruited the help of several of my cousins; we decided to make our clubhouse behind the hedge at Granny’s house; and then we started scrounging for stuff to build our clubhouse out of. We found scraps of wood, bricks, logs, and old material scraps. We debated and planned, built and then had to rebuild, argued and became frustrated over details and then, after lots of discussion, and struggles, we figured out a new plan. And where were the directions? Our parents? The snap together parts that came in a pre-made box? They were not there. And since we had none of these things, we created!

When I was 40 years old, I decided that I would start a spirituality center for hurting children. I looked around for other people who had begun similar non-profits. I hoped for a blueprint or directions I could follow. But I discovered that there were none. This idea was unique. So what did I do? I did exactly what I did when I was 9 years old. I recruited people to help me, we looked around and found a place to start and in essence, we created!

Creating is not something you are taught. It is something you discover. You first discover it during childhood. As children, we learn the creative process when we are given materials without directions and the freedom and time to make whatever we want.

I am concerned that our children are being given too much help. Their toys are plastic and snap together, move because their batteries make them move. No imagination or creativity required. Their video games are pre-programmed and have one way to move from level to level. There is no creativity in most video games. Even “Legos” and blocks come with directions now. The toys that were originally created to help children learn creativity are now used to promote upcoming movies.

Good intentioned parents and grandparents quickly “help” children, especially when it is obvious that they are beginning to feel frustrated or at the first sign of an argument. Unfortunately, they are rescuing their children long before the children have time to creatively discover a solution to their problem or come up with a plan B. They make suggestions and improvements and the child never discovers jst how creative they are.

I am not against toys. I am not saying that parents should never help their children. What I am saying is that children need at least 50% of their playtime doing activities that encourage creativity. And I don’t mean, choosing the color of the crayon on the pre-printed coloring book page. I mean, for 50% of their playtime, children need nothing but a basket full of scraps and junk and… uninterrupted time! When children are given time and “stuff,” they will create. And as they create they will be learning the skills it will take to continue creating for the rest of their lives! And... who knows what amazing things they will create... a cure for a disease? A book? A thought that might change the world? ... I pray you will help them begin their creative journey now!


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