For writers who are also mothers, children can become an obstacle to productivity and concentration, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Children of writers learn at an early age that creativity is part of adult life. Involving your children in the writing process by giving them creative tasks to work on alongside you will help you carve out time to write while your children learn the value of quiet concentration.
Most children are high-energy, at least some of the time. Sustained attention doesn’t necessarily come naturally to them. This is doubly true if your child has attention deficit disorder, an increasingly common ailment among children today. Recent studies suggest that children who are encouraged to sustain their attention at home can learn skills of attentiveness that translate to the classroom, and help them manage their attention spans in the long term. Many children, including those with ADD, exhibit something called hyper-focus during certain activities. These activities usually include things like video games, but with a little patience and work you can turn that hyper-focus towards creative endeavors that heal while they entertain. (see: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/1032.html).
Begin by giving your children a topic that appeals to them. For a child that fights with a sibling over portion size or toys, have the child write about why he feels things are unfair. Pose a specific question like: what about sharing is difficult? Encourage him to use examples to explain his feelings, and give him crayons or markers to include illustrations with his writing. For a child who cares about saving the whales, encourage him to write a petition explaining why the whales are so important and why they should be saved. In other words: use your child’s interests as a launching pad for the creative writing project. By doing this you help your child learn that words have power. You also help him work through his feelings, in much the same way you might in your journal at the end of a hard day.
When your child has finished her piece of writing, encourage her to decorate a folder for her work. Collecting your child’s writing in a folder will not only give you both a keepsake for the future, it will make your little one feel like she is accomplishing something, creating a lasting artifact from her thoughts and feelings. This is one of the joys of being a writer, and it is never too early to start sharing those joys with your child.
Begin with short writing sessions and build from there. As your child grows accustomed to sitting still and working by your side, his ability to sit still will improve. Be sure to provide plenty of art supplies in case he wants to turn from writing to drawing. Even just ten minutes of quiet writing time will slow your child down and encourage him to look inward. Even if your child doesn’t take to the exercise, it will instill an understanding of the importance of quiet attention for the writing process. Perhaps it will make him less likely to disturb you when you are having your own creative writing time.
References and Resources:
Children’s Disabilities: ADHD