As a parent and life-long artist, I have always marveled at the boundless creativity and imagination that children possess. From doodling whimsical creatures to crafting colorful masterpieces, their artistic talents fill the world with wonder.
My own experiences as an artist, however, led me to a disheartening realization – children with special artistic talents are often taken for granted. A child’s artistic abilities are often only acknowledged and valued when they are producing art for someone else's needs. Artistic exploitation extends to adulthood, when young artists choose to make a living with their skills. I wanted young artists to be aware of this, so I wrote my first children’s book, Courage Takes Practice. As young readers delve into the story, they will learn invaluable life lessons about embracing their uniqueness, finding their voice against those who choose to exploit their talents, and finding the strength to do so through art.
This issue raises questions about how we perceive and appreciate children with artistic gifts, leading to an essential conversation about fostering genuine support and recognition for their unique talents.
As a child, I understood the traditional type of bullying: name calling, physical harm, gossip, etc. But what I didn’t realize until much later in life is that excluding someone from a group intentionally - or including them when their talents are needed, then ignoring them after…over and over again - is just as validly a form of bullying that can have the same disastrous effects.
Have these thoughts ever crossed your mind? “I’m only worthy if I’m contributing something? I’m only worthy if someone needs me?”
And while it’s nice to be needed…kids also NEED to grow up knowing they are worth love, attention and friendship even when they aren’t being productive or useful to someone else.
The heart of the matter became very clear to me–The people we most want to impress- teachers- friends- family members were unintentionally reinforcing a misguided notion that talented children are only appreciated when they are making or performing for someone else.
By taking these gifted children for granted and solely appreciating their art when we benefit from it, we diminish their sense of intrinsic worth and undermine the true value of their creative expression.
Here are some ways for others to appreciate kids' art without imposing demands or expectations, allowing the young artists to explore their creativity freely and authentically.
Valuing Art for Art's Sake:
It is crucial to shift our perspective and value children's artistic talents for the joy, fulfillment, and self-expression they bring, regardless of whether they serve an immediate purpose for others. Children with artistic gifts should be encouraged to experiment their creativity without the pressure of producing perfect masterpieces, or producing for approval or recognition. Art can be messy and it is up to the artist alone to determine whether it is fit for other’s consumption.
Recognizing Intrinsic Value:
Every artistic creation by a child is a reflection of their unique perspective and inner world. How often do we as parents get to have a look inside our children’s minds? Letting children express themselves freely is the best way to truly see and know our children, and in turn boosts a child’s self-esteem, self-awareness, and confidence.
Nurturing Artistic Passion:
Instead of taking their talents for granted, parents, teachers, and caregivers should foster a nurturing environment that supports and encourages the growth of their artistic passion. Passions don’t always have to turn into careers. Passions don’t always need to be monetized, but if a child grows up and wants to remain/become an artist, caregivers can do a much better job of encouraging and finding resources instead of steering creative children away from art-making.
Let the Child Decide:
When it comes to performing or showing off their work, let the child decide when and where to do so, instead of asking children to show off on the spot for people they don’t know or in situations where they aren’t prepared beforehand.
By valuing their art for art's sake, we can help these young artists thrive and flourish, contributing to a world that cherishes their unique gifts and allows them to shine brightly. As parents, educators, and society, we must recognize the profound impact of genuine appreciation, empowering these young talents to fearlessly embrace their artistic prowess, and continue to create with passion and purpose. In doing so, we lay the foundation for an evolving artistic landscape where the potential of these gifted children knows no bounds.
About the author
From art school in NC to teaching Arts and Entertainment Management in PA to living abroad in Quito, Ecuador, Amy Scheidegger Ducos has lived a creative life from the very beginning. An artist by age 2, Amy has spent all of her life dedicated to using her design and freelance expertise for the good of others. In addition, Amy runs a graphic design and illustration business, Rock & Roar Creative. Courage Takes Practice: A Color Theory Storybook for Young Artists is her first children’s book. For more information, visit https://www.couragetakespractice.com.
PR Friendly Mama!
I'm Brandy, a happily married, proud Mom of 3 amazing kids. If you're interested in building a working relationship, please feel free to e-mail me at: NewlyCrunchyMamaOf3@gmail.com
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