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Many of us hold the belief that creativity is an innate quality that a lucky few tend to be born with. However, this simply is not the case. Creativity is an integral life skill that can be nurtured and developed alongside practical skills such as math and reading. In fact, creativity is vital for problem-solving and extends far beyond the realms of art, literature or theater.

Developing creative thinking has the power to help your child follow their dreams whether they become an artist, an inventor or a surgeon. As this video from The Parenting Junkie explains, creative thinking requires adopting a ‘growth mindset’ that involves being open to new ideas throughout one’s life. If you’re wondering how to instill this kind of mindset in your kids, take a look at the following helpful tips:

1. Allow them to solve questions by themselves

When a child asks for help with a question on their math homework, it is sometimes tempting to simply provide them with an answer. This will not teach them anything, however. Encourage your child to think outside the box by asking whether they have any ideas about how to start solving the problem. It may take a while to reach the answer, but allowing your child to come up with their own ways to address the question will push their creativity to new heights.

2. Allow them to get involved with home decorating

Simple DIY tasks such as painting a room or making a bird feeder present great opportunities to foster creativity. As well as testing out their artistic skills, a home DIY session will teach your kids that creativity can save money. Why splash out on an expensive new ornament when you can do it yourself?

If you need a few suggestions for DIY projects, this article is a very useful resource.

3. Encourage your child to take charge during games

When playing games with your child, encourage them to take charge of the proceedings. If they are imagining their own world in which you are chasing stars or riding unicorns, for example, help push their creativity by asking questions and immersing yourself in their imaginary life. If you are playing a game with strict rules, ask them to come up with new ones every so often to spice things up.

4. Accept dirt as an inevitable part of life

Creative kids are messy kids. If you want to develop your child’s creative capacities, you will simply have to accept that they will get covered in paint, dirt or food. Remember that washing machines exist for a reason!

5. Don’t be averse to technology

There are plenty of ways in which digital technology can be used to harness a child’s creativity through editing apps, cameras, or drawing apps. If you tend to be suspicious of technology, try to drop your reservations and give your child a few minutes of free reign on your tablet or smartphone to try out creative programs.

6. Ask your child questions

Try to ask questions that will stretch their creative muscles. This could include, for example:

  • What would you do if you were invisible for a day?
  • What would your superpower be?
  • Can you come up with a name for a new kind of animal?
  • What would your dream job be?

As well as encouraging them to think creatively, asking these kinds of questions can be very entertaining for parents. It is amazing how far outside the box children are willing to think!

7. Get into baking

Try baking some cookies or muffins with your kids and ask them to add in a few of their own special ingredients. This will develop their palate and give them a fantastic creative outlet.

8. Take alternative routes home from school

Trying out new routes home can be fun and will demonstrate to your child that habits and routines can be broken every so often!

9. Leave time in your child’s schedule for unstructured play time

Many parents are tempted to fill their children’s lives with extra-curricular activities. This kind of rigid structure can inhibit a child’s creativity, however. Give them space to get creative by setting aside an hour or so in which they can do whatever they like. Don’t get worked up if they seem a little bored or would like to spend their time playing video games – creativity waxes and wanes and can manifest in a number of different ways.