Social & Emotional Development

11 Tips to Encourage Creativity for Kids

By: Michael Kress
A young child sitting on a kitchen counter, watching batter drip from a whisk while the parent observes.
2 minutes to read
For All Ages

Kids love to color, create and imagine. And yet, too often as they get older, they lose some of that creative spirit. Here are 11 ways to encourage your child to keep that creative spark alive and strong. 

1. Provide the means. Surround your children with the things that will allow them to follow their interests, such as art supplies, woodworking materials, musical instruments or any other tools of the trade.

2. Do your own creative work in their presence. Whatever your medium or muse, when your children are pursuing their own creative passions, set up near them and take some time to focus on yours, in parallel.

3. Discuss the art around you. Whether it’s a painting at a museum or a roadside sculpture you see from the car window, ask your children what they see and how it makes them feel.

4. Encourage them to color outside the lines—literally and figuratively. Expecting them to stick to someone else’s notion of art can quash their interest and creativity.

5. Slow down. The constant rush of life inhibits creativity and induces stress.

6. Program downtime. Unstructured time is a rare commodity in many families, but it’s essential to create time and space for kids to make their own, undirected fun.

7. Play with them. Imaginative play, or whatever your kids love doing, is a chance for them to be creative and explore their thoughts and ideas. Let yourself get as engrossed in it as they are and you’ll be amazed what they come up with—and what a window into their thoughts you’ll get.

8. Cook together. Use this must-do activity to involve your kids in creating something necessary and yummy—and never be afraid to experiment in the kitchen.

9. Buy the right toys. Think more boxes of random Lego bricks, fewer sets with step-by-step instructions. Select toys that encourage kids’ imaginations to run wild and give them the self-satisfaction of having conceived of and built their own structure.

10. Don’t intrude. Fight the instinct to “correct” their way of drawing, dancing, or doing whatever it is they’re doing.

11. Embrace failure. Show them by your own reaction to setbacks that what they see as “failure” is merely an opportunity to try again or to try something amazing.

Author Michael Kress
By: Michael Kress

Michael Kress is the managing director of content strategy at Teach for America, a longtime writer and editor on parenting issues, and the father of three girls.