Five ways to encourage your child’s creativity (and how to learn from it yourself)

Love to encourage your child to be more creative? And wish you could take inspiration from their boundless imagination and wild ideas? Here are five ways you can. 

Raising kids can be draining, challenging and leave you with precious little ‘me’ time. But their energy and creativity could also turn into your greatest asset – if you harness it.

Whether they’re creating a fort out of pillows, colouring in your wallpaper, or devising new and ever more devious strategies to smuggle their pet turtle into school – kids have a creativity which can’t be denied. And although it can be exhausting, their boundless energy and imagination is something we should encourage. In fact, it’s something we can learn from.

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Five ways to encourage your child’s creativity

So how can you encourage your children to be more creative? And get inspiration from them for your own ideas? Here are five ways.

1) Let your children inspire you

As a parent, you spend a lot of your time teaching your kids the skills they’ll need in future life – but have you ever stopped to think about what they could teach you?

When it comes to thinking outside of the box, children are the experts. Budding inventors have imagined everything from what the smartwatches of the future look like, to designing ways to clean the oceans of plastic.

Setting your child a challenge – either to draw something or write or tell a story straight from their mind (we love the brilliant Story Cubes) – can help them hone their powerful imagination. And by encouraging them to think without borders, some of that crazy creativity is bound to rub off on you.

2) Encourage discovery

If your three-year-old demands a pickle and jam sandwich for lunch, you could be forgiven for rolling your eyes. But don’t be too quick to dissuade this behaviour.

When you’re young, you don’t have the experience to tell that one food doesn’t go with another, or that wearing your favourite red wellies in the middle of summer might be a little too warm. But that inexperience can also drive innovation.

Once a month, why not let your child pick the fresh ingredients for dinner? You’ll not only have the chance to teach them about different foods, but it’ll challenge you to try creating something new.

3) Embrace a little messiness

As the old saying goes, “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs”. And if you want your kids to really explore their creative impulses, you might have to let go of your vision of a pristine living space and let them get a little bit messy.

Of course, children don’t need much encouragement to make a mess. But if you can turn tidying up afterwards into a creative activity, you’re on to a winner. Try getting your kids to come up with tidying solutions themselves – maybe by designing a new box to pack away their toys, or helping you write a song to sing while they clean up.

Even if it doesn’t work every time, making tidying up as creative as making a mess will go a long way towards getting your child engaged.

4) Turn chaos into opportunity

There’s nothing worse than losing your child in the supermarket. Or dealing with the aftermath of a bored four-year-old, a poorly designed juice box, and your favourite pair of suede boots. But however stressful these situations might be, they can also be the catalyst for creation.

Colleen Wong is the perfect example. A mother and retired banker from the UK, when Colleen heard about a lost child in her local area, it gave her the idea for the Gator watch, a wearable tracker for children.

You see, all the weird and wonderful ways our kids come up with to drive us crazy, force us to think of solutions which might not yet exist. And those solutions might just lead to an idea which we can turn into a business opportunity.

5) Put yourself in their shoes

Kids have a less complex view of the world than grown-ups. Adults, on the other hand, have a habit of overcomplicating things.

Sometimes, getting the perspective of a child can provide real insight into a situation. Not getting along with a colleague at work? Take a tip from your little one and don’t bottle up your emotions – children will always let you know if they are upset. Afraid to try out for that new job? Think about your kid’s approach to trying new things – you won’t know if you can do it until you try.

Ironically, it’s often the advice we give our children which we could most use ourselves. So, who better to remind us how to keep things simple?

If you’re suffering from a lack of inspiration, or struggling with a problem you can’t quite solve, get your child’s brains ticking. Their creativity might be just what you need to get out of a rut. Or even better: they might have an idea which could change the world.

Need more creative inspiration?

Whether you want to encourage creativity in your children, or get some more creative inspiration yourself, we recommend reading these articles:

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk