Friday, December 10, 2010

The Active, Creative Child by Stephanic Vlahov

The subtitle of The Active, Creative Child is Parenting in Perpetual Motion, and parents of these children will surely recognize this description.  These are the children who are born very intense.  They tend to talk early, have boundless curiosity that leads them to do things most children would never think of doing, and seem to have little need for sleep.  They are hypersensitive to their environment, and may be picky eaters or have tactile preferences and dislikes for certain materials.

The author, Stephanie Vlahov, relates her experiences parenting such a child, along with research from various child experts to explain why the child does what he/she does, and how best to help the child adjust to the world.  She suggests that such children should be cherished, not dreaded, as they are bright, creative and interesting.   Yet, she also believes that they must be grounded in the real world, and realise that they must follow the rules as well as others. 

The first chapter discusses what children like this tend to be like.  In it, she gives the reader eight observations and ten hints from her own experience.  These observations and hints are useful to the parent struggling to understand why their child is so different from that of their peers, and once they have identified their child as an active, creative child, how to manage their environment to best support their enthusiasm and help them fit into the rest of society.

The second chapter talks about the large part imagination plays in the lives of these children.  They tend to be very focused on what they are interested in.  Imaginary friends may make an appearance and remain in family life for months or even years.  Creative outlets are extremely necessary, and often are the pathway for the child to fit in with other children.

Chapter 3 discusses how to help the child fit in.  These children are often challenged at making friends, as they are too high-energy for other children who can see them as bossy.  Often they are interested in other activities than those of the children surrounding them.  The author helps the parent recognize the importance of helping their child find a peer group of other children who share the same interests.  She also gives strategies for helping the child, from an early age, fit in by recognizing the needs of those around them.

School is often a challenge.  These are the kids who question everything, not the kids who come into class, sit down with organized work and homework assignments.  Instead, they are the ones who question constantly in their need to understand.  They have more difficulty with structure, and a teacher that demands compliance with no room for exploration is not the best match.  The author feels that these children are at risk for being wrongly diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, more to make them compliant than because they actually have a disorder.  She also discusses gifted programs and how these gifted children make not fit that mold, as their talents and gifts may be in the arts rather than the traditionally tested fields of math and language.

Finally, Vlahov discusses family dynamics.  When there are multiple children, it is difficult sometimes to give those who are more laid-back the attention they need as the active child demands so much more attention.  But it is critical to help the other children in the family also find their areas to shine.  In addition, if the active child is a star in a creative field, it should not preclude the other children from also enjoying it.

This book will be a godsend for those who have an active, creative child in their lives.  It explains why they do the things they do, and how to help them be the most successful people they can, and they are often the stars of our world if raised appropriately.  Intense, focused, creative, always-on, these children have abilities that many of us can only wish for.  This book is recommended for parents facing this issue and those interested in child development. 

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