Most of us have an instinct to fit in. In fact, parents and teachers rely on children’s desire to conform to societal norms for good behavior and orderliness. As adults, these people often have difficulty being creative because they’ve stifled that instinct or ability for so long.
Children who don’t conform are in some ways outcast, whether by gentle teasing, harsh ridicule or lack of self-esteem. They may be painfully aware of their differences. Other children, particularly those whose families nurture and value creativity, continue to develop their creative potential. Cast by some as misfits, these children don’t "fit in" precisely because they value artistic self-expression and feel comfortable "in their own skin" without trying to conform.
Looking with Fresh Eyes
Many children are more creative than adults. They look at things with fresh eyes and a perspective untainted by everyone else’s opinion. They use language in an interesting way, coming up with constructs, ideas and interpretations because they approach a subject through their own experience and with limitless imagination.
As adults, we tend to operate from a place of context and security. We develop expertise in what we know; it’s our comfort zone. Those who are more creative operate outside of the comfort zone, or the traditional way to interpret the world around us. That’s why creative people don’t always "fit in" – they operate outside norms and expectations.
So how do we recognize and develop creativity in our youth, especially if they’re more creative than we are? To start, it’s helpful to better understand creativity by breaking it down into distinct abilities, so it’s not such a mystery. Creativity requires a balance of synthetic or associative ability, analytical ability and practical ability.
Being diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) makes growing up difficult. What’s worse, children with ADHD are as much as three times more likely than other kids to develop depression. But the symptoms of ADHD and depression overlap and are difficult to differentiate, so how are parents to know if their child is struggling with attention deficit disorder, depression or both?
Recognizing Teen Depression
All teens, especially those with ADHD, are likely to feel sad or isolated at times. Depression becomes a major concern when a child displays the following symptoms over a sustained period of time:
- Extreme sadness or irritability (most of the day, nearly every day)
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
- Frequent school absences or a significant drop in grades
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Change in eating patterns
- Fatigue or extreme restlessness
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Frequent complaints of physical ailments like stomachaches or headaches
- Poor concentration
- Thoughts or comments about death and/or suicide
Although the core symptoms of depression are the same in adults and children, some subtle differences exist. For example, children and teens are more likely to appear irritable than sad, and may suddenly start to struggle in school. Depressed teens may start to complain about difficulty sleeping or they may become especially self-critical and disparaging.
It’s no secret that teens can be moody and less than thrilled about having to go to school every day. But if you notice that your child is extremely hesitant about going to school and depressed or upset when they get home, it may be that bullies are to blame.
More than 16 percent of teenagers have been bullied by other students, causing them to be anxious, afraid and do poorly in school. A large percentage of adolescents who are bullied are too embarrassed or scared to tell their parents, and choose to suffer the consequences in silence. And unless you know what to look out for, you may not even realize that your teen is genuinely afraid of going to school.
Signs That Your Child Is Being Bullied
Bullying is often more than physical attacks, which can be easy to spot. Bullying can also take the form of verbal abuse (teasing or name-calling), emotional abuse (intimidation using gestures or spreading rumors) or cyberbullying (threatening through e-mail or text messaging). When the bullying is not physical, it can be harder to recognize the signs that your teen is being bullied.