For so many parents, teaching children practical life skills—how to ride a bike, how to follow directions, how to respect others—often unintentionally takes precedence over creative thinking skills. But fostering creativity in our kids is critical, too. A child who is used to thinking creatively can more easily problem-solve than a child who follows a rigid protocol when searching for a solution to a problem. So what can a parent do to foster their child’s creativity? Here are a few fun tips:
- When your child asks for help solving a problem—whether it’s something concrete like a tough homework assignment or more general like how to be a good friend—don’t immediately gratify by answering. Instead, ask your child what he or she thinks, and applaud all ideas, especially ones that are unexpected and outside the box.
- Ask your child to imagine what it would be like to have a superpower: “If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
- Ask your child to solve a family problem—i.e. “The living room is constan
- Go for a walk and encourage your child to collect rocks, twigs, flowers and other items in nature. When you get back home, make up a story about the items you collected together.
- Give your child a drawing prompt: “If you could invent something that would make life easier for people, what would you invent? What would it look like, and what would it do?”
- Always praise your child’s effort—not the result. “I’m so proud of you for studying so hard for that test. I know you spent a really long time on it.” Motivating children to use their minds for learning and solving problems makes a lasting impression—much more lasting than whatever mark he or she receives on a test.
And, maybe most importantly, always remember if your child feels badly after failing at something, don’t immediately tell him or her that it doesn’t matter. Instead, ask questions: “Why do you think you didn’t get a better score on the test?” This will give him or her a chance to think creatively about the experience so he or she can do better at the next thing. By building a strong foundation of creativity and critical thinking skills, you are preparing them to be resourceful and well equipped for the challenges life will offer.