Q&A: Encouraging creativity in children


As a first-time parent of a very bright child, I want to encourage her creativity as she grows up. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Every child is born with creative potential. Creativity is essential in art, science, and business, and also allows us to express ourselves in constructive and beautiful ways – playing an instrument, cooking a meal, solving puzzles, etc. Helping our children develop imagination, original thinking, and innovative problem solving is one of the greatest privileges of parenting. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Let them play. Some structured activity, like a team sport, is healthy. But especially as she gets older, leave room in the schedule for your child to exercise her imagination and experience wonder at the world around her.
  • Nurture curiosity. A toddler’s favourite question is “Why?” But inquisitiveness can get quashed as children get older. Use open-ended questions in your conversations – from practical (“How could we clean up all these toys faster?”) to abstract (“What do you think that cloud looks like?”).
  • Don’t be afraid of boredom. Children don’t have to be constantly entertained, and definitely shouldn’t resort to electronic devices every time they’re bored. You’ll be surprised how quickly imagination kicks in with just a few simple tools for creative expression.
  • Don’t micromanage creativity. Some creative people colour inside the lines, some don’t. Let expression be about creating, not about yielding a perfect product.
  • Allow for messes. Developing creative problem-solving skills can sometimes be messy. Find a safe, appropriate place then let your child experiment!
  • Encourage “failure.” Let your child attempt things without the pressure of doing everything perfectly. If she is taught to fear making mistakes, she’s less likely to engage the world creatively and take a confident approach to life.
  • Create alongside your child. Pursuing creative interests with your child – piano lessons, baking, photography, etc. – allows for fun interaction and strengthens relational bonds.

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