From Curious Toddler to Creative Teen: Children Thrive on Autonomy
As DIY architect providing architectural services online, I am all about giving tools and support in the effort to encourage autonomy. This desire to be a proverbial cheerleader is in my blood thanks to the years of raising two daughters, each one a creative teen.
Having grown up in social isolation, as a mother, I made a conscious choice to ensure that my creative teens are not afraid to venture out into the world. DIY Like a Hummingbird: 10 Steps to Naturally Well-designed Kids’ Spaces builds a case for creating an environment that nurtures a sense of adventure by stimulating development through exploration.
When Nastya was fifteen years old, she brought up an idea of bicycling with three of her friends from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I looked at her with amazement. Although, it would be an utterly crazy undertaking considering her age, I could not help but to admire this creative teen’s gutsy attitude towards life with its boundless possibilities.
While working on an Altered Book project in seventh grade, she was asked to ponder a question: “Do you doubt your doubts?” To her that question meant: “Do you take risks?” She told me that she is always the first on school retreats to plunge into any challenging activity without being scared or apprehensive. Being the creative teen that she is, Nastya enjoys taking risks.
One of my all-time favorite photographs of Nastya captures her very first step. She is embracing a challenge with a grin of delight! Another photograph that is on my desk is of Nastya climbing on top of a play structure built by the students who participated in the summer Children’s Architecture Workshop. That year she was too young to take part; however, I made sure to include her in the unveiling ceremony and celebration. Of course, she had to try it out herself! In the image I have, she is fiercely conquering the “rock-climbing” surface.
Shuffling through family albums, I find Nastya on extreme ski slopes in Mammoth, parasailing on Maui, jumping off a cliff into the Tyrrhenian Sea in Chinque Terre. When she is learning to snow-board, she is not deterred by constant falling. When she is playing tennis, her desire to win propels her.
This creative teen has a fearless spirit. She wants to enjoy life to the fullest. She pushes herself both physically and academically. She works very hard at achieving her personal best.
It’s about the thrill of participation, not the score. In our family, the effort means much more than the outcome. When dealing with obstacles, we do not overemphasize the end result. It’s all about growth mindset; success stems from putting in the hard work.
When it comes to physical/outdoor adventures, I stay at home or watch from the bleachers at best. I cannot offer anything but encouragement, support, and utter admiration. Although, I might be an adventurer in an urban sort of way, my kids are light years ahead. In this territory, I cannot lead by example. I delegate.
My husband assumes responsibility. He is the one who has taken them skiing ever since they were toddlers. He is the one who introduced them to tennis. He is the one who gives them driving lessons. He is the daredevil explorer role model in the family. He has emboldened our daughters, each one a creative teen in her own right, to try things I would never dream of. He has shown them the trails I would never venture out on. And I have braced myself not to be overprotective.
I am not intimidated when my creative teen’s accomplishments completely overshadow my own. I am quite satisfied when each one outshines and surpasses me.
This post is the ninth in the series of ten designed to expand on the emotional background of downloadable how-toBOOK DIY Like a Hummingbird.