How to Inspire Creativity in Your Kids

Three Methods:Contributing to Your Child’s CreativityNurturing Your Child’s CreativityEncouraging Decision-Making Skills

Each individual is born with creativity. Creativity is using the imagination, originality, productivity, and problem solving to approach a situation.[1] Many people view creativity not as an inborn trait but as a skill that can be developed, and the more you develop it, the more creative your child may be! While art is an common go-to for inspiring children’s creativity, there are lots of ways to nurture children’s creativity!

Method 1
Contributing to Your Child’s Creativity

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    Be a role model. Be open-minded in your thinking and find lots of solutions to many problems. Show your kids that you are flexible and willing to try new things.[2] When faced with difficulty, show your kids that you can approach the problem in different ways and still be okay.
    • If your kids ask you a question, be creative in how you answer it. You can brainstorm different solutions with your child before answering the question. For instance, your child may ask, “Where does rain come from?” You can start to wonder together, “Well… it comes from the sky… what else comes from the sky? Could it come from that?”
    • If your kid asks you how to draw a heart, show lots of different ways to draw a heart (like using straight lines, using dots, or drawing flowers in the shape of a heart), even including the anatomical way, then ask your child to think of some.
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    Nurture unstructured playtime.[3] Allow your child to have unstructured playtime where you do not interrupt, direct the play, or make suggestions. Choose toys for your children that don’t have one specific purpose but let your child find many uses.
    • Encourage activities like painting, drawing, and building.
    • Avoid or have very few cause-and-effect toys, such as a jack-in-the-box or other pop-up toy.
    • Don’t correct your child’s play unless their is obvious conflict.
    • If your child says, “I’m bored”, set out some toys, and start a story line and have your child complete it. For instance, you can set up some dolls and say that they are traveling all over the world. Their first stop in in Prague, where do they go next? What places do they want to see? How long do they travel for, and how many countries do they visit?
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    Provide resources. Have specific spaces for activities, especially messy activities. Create an art space for your children where they can paint and make a mess without it affecting the whole house, or a dress up area where all clothes go. When it comes time for Christmas or birthday gifts, request art supplies, musical instruments, building materials, and costumes.[4]
    • Repurpose things you have around the house: paper towel and toilet paper rods can become a sword or a sailboat.
    • Challenge your children to make something using common household items like paper, wrappers, and wrapping paper tubes.
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    Generate ideas. Set aside time to brainstorm ideas of how to solve problems, create new activities, or make new things. Don’t judge, evaluate or talk about what may be plausible, but encourage the flood of ideas. Don’t choose the “best” idea. Focus on the process of idea generating, not the outcomes or evaluations.[5]
    • Whenever something's lacking (i.e. you need to reach something but you don't have a ladder) have your kids think about ways they could solve the problem.
    • Read a short story until the climax then stop. Now ask your kids what they think happens next and how they would solve the problem.
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    Encourage mistakes and failure.[6] Kids that are afraid to fail or make a mistake may create obstacles for themselves in the creative process.[7] Kids may also be afraid to judge their own work or have their work judged. Share your own failures with your child, and stress that it was okay and that it taught you something.
    • Practice coloring outside the lines with your child, coloring skin blue or purple, or other silly things to show that doing things differently is okay.
    • If your child is upset about making a mistake, find creative alternatives to making it okay. If your child rips a page in a coloring book, repair the rip with stickers, or draw around the rip to make it fit in with the picture.
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    Ask open-ended questions. Some parents find themselves caught in the closed question loop, such as, “That’s a nice flower, isn’t it?” or “That’ll be fun, won’t it?” Instead of asking questions that are closed, ask open ended questions that allow for creativity.[8] Allow your child to answer creatively, as well.
    • You can say, “Which is your favorite flower and why?” or “What do you think will be fun?”
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    Limit screen time. Allow your children to watch a minimum of tv or interact sparsely with screens like phones, computers, or tablets, as too much screen time can lead to obesity, attention problems, emotional disturbances, and difficulties sleeping.[9] Instead, encourage activities such as reading, listening to music, practicing drawing or rehearsing a play.[10]
    • Set a timer for your children when watching tv or use a tablet or phone, so they know that once the timer goes off, screen time is up.
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    Focus on the process instead of the end result. Incentives or too much force can interfere with creativity, and make the child try to guess what you want instead of exploring on their own.[11]
    • Instead of giving verbal praise such as “great job!” or “what a great painting!” praise the effort. Say, “I can tell you worked really hard on that.” or “Wow, you used many colors in your picture. How vibrant!”

Method 2
Nurturing Your Child’s Creativity

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    Solve problems in different ways. Give your child a problem, and ask how to solve it. Then, ask your child to solve it in a different way. Emphasize the process and not the final product. Encourage many solutions to a problem and many routes to a solution.[12]
    • Ask your children to create a house, but be vague and say they can create anything they want. If they get stuck, say they can draw a house, build one out of popsicle sticks or cardboard. Encourage them to make a house in many ways, down to making a dog house or a doll house or a house for a friendly monster.
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    Allow children to explore their interests. You may really want your child to learn piano or be a ballerina, but let your child choose what activities interest him or her.[13] The more freedom a child experiences in activities, the more flexibility in the child’s thinking.
    • Your child will naturally gravitate toward activities that he or she enjoys. Encourage the exploration of those activities.
    • Activities that can help inspire creativity include music, dance, drawing, sculpting, and painting.
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    Enroll your child in creative activities. Have your child take classes such as painting, dancing, sculpting, or pottery. Art is especially helpful for children as it helps create and express the emerging personality.[14] Choose activities that allow the child to learn basic skills, but also fill in the blanks with his or her own creativity.
    • Find classes at your local community center, park district, or private studio.
    • Allow your child to be creative on his or her own, and also in collaboration with other children.
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    Connect your child creatively with peers. Learning with other children can be exciting and educational.[15] Check out children’s clubs or after-school activities that allow the children to collaborate and create something together. Working together and allowing the creativity to flow with other children can result in lots of fun ideas and lots of learning.
    • Kids can create a dance, a song, a science project or a functional item like a boat.
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    Encourage multisensory learning. Get as many senses involved as possible in activities.[16] Use movement, sound, texture, taste, and visual information. You can also play music in the background. One way to do multisensory learning is through learning a song with motions or a dance, or making up your own motions.
    • Play with clay. You can choose different colored clay with different textures. Practice saying the sounds that the clay makes when it is squished, and notice how it smells.
    • If you have an activity with only a few senses, imagine the others. You can ask questions about the senses, like “what sound do you think this could make?”
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    Make sure not to falsify your kids' theories unless it's absolutely necessary. If your kids tell you that the wind is made by the trees, tell them that it could be true, and ask what makes them think that. By allowing them to develop their own theories they can explore their own creativity! However, be careful not to make them think that their outlandish (and incorrect) theory is veritable fact; just point out that it’s a possibility.
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    Encourage all ideas and keep all comments positive. Stay positive in your feedback and most of all, encourage your child to be creative. If you find yourself thinking, “That could never happen” or “that idea will never work”, keep it to yourself and praise your child for thinking out of the box.
    • If your child wants to build a spaceship to travel to the moon, encourage the venture without saying “That’s impossible.” Help collect building materials and encourage your child to think of different ways to get to the moon.
    • If you have a hard time not putting down your child’s ideas, say, “That’s an interesting approach” or “I’ve never thought about that before.”

Method 3
Encouraging Decision-Making Skills

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    Provide good options for your kids. Good decision-making skills can also help to inspire creativity in your kids. When your child has a decision in front of him or her, try presenting a few good options and asking your child to weight the benefits and downsides of each one.[17]
    • For example, if your child wants to get a treat in the grocery store, you might encourage him or her to choose between three healthy options, such as a granola bar, a bag of dried fruit, and a container of yogurt covered nuts.
    • Having good choices to choose from will ensure that your child makes a good choice while also allowing your child to imagine the benefits and downsides of each option. This process may help your child to develop his or her creativity.
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    Coach your children through difficult decisions. Encouraging your child to look at a problem from many angles can also encourage creativity. If your child has a tough decision to make, try sitting down with him or her and talk about the decision. Encourage your child to look at every option and to look at the pros and cons of these options.[18]
    • Don’t make the decision for your child, just help him or her to select the best choice by discussing options together and asking questions to encourage your child to think critically. For example, you might ask, "What do you think that outcome of that decision would be?" And, "What benefits does this option have over the other options?"
    • You may also want to sit down with your child again after the decision has been made and talk about how it turned out and whether or not your child still thinks it was the best option. For example, you can ask something like, "Knowing what you know now, would you still make the same decision? Why or why not?"
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    Use hypothetical examples. Presenting your child with hypothetical moral dilemmas can also be a good way to help your child to build his or her decision making skills and nurture creativity at the same time. You can encourage your child to examine multiple possible decisions, consider the potential outcomes, and decide which one he or she would choose.[19]
    • For example, you might ask your child to imagine what he or she would do if a friend cheated on a test. Should your child tell on the friend? Confront the friend about cheating on the test? Or say nothing?
    • Encourage your child to look at the pros and cons of each hypothetical option. For example, what might be the positives of telling on a friend? What might be the negatives?
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    Allow your child to learn from poor decisions. It may be tempting to step in every time your child makes or is about to make a mistake, but your child will not learn anything if you do this. Instead, try to step back now and then and let your child make his or her own mistakes.[20] What your child learns from these experiences will offer valuable lessons about decision-making and it may help to inspire your child’s creativity as well.
    • For example, if your child decides to use his or her free time after school playing video games instead of tackling a difficult homework assignment, then don’t interfere. Allow your child to deal with the consequences of that decision on his or her own.


  • Always tell your kids that every problem has more than one solution.
  • Necessity is the mother of invention; keep this in mind when you’re missing a baking ingredient or are one picture short of a collage.

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Categories: Nurturing Talent