cultivate creativity for kids imagination

Cultivate Creativity for Kids: 5 Goals to develop children’s creativity and imagination

As a mom of two toddlers, I think about parenting a lot and lately I’ve been looking into how to cultivate creativity for kids. “Am I doing it right?” is a pretty common thought in which the answer is a little hard pin down. Lately, I’ve been trying to focus instead on something I can control, such as coming up with 5 goals to support, nurture, and develop children’s creativity and imagination. 

I want so much for my kids that it’s easy to put a lot of pressure on myself. Hopefully, that pressure I put on myself doesn’t turn into pressure I put on them. For me, it’s important to take a step back once in a while and recognize that it might be a little easier to focus on supporting them rather than wishing and hoping that they’ll avoid pain.

Cultivate Creativity for Kids – Using What’s Already There

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to develop children’s creativity. We all know that kids come by creativity fairly easily and naturally, my daughter loves making art or playing pretend while seeming to need very little coaching. That doesn’t mean we can’t think about how to support children in their development and create space for them to continue to express it.

Kids have an imagination in which anything is possible, this allows them to see the world with a very open mind. They dance on rainbows with unicorns and can see a blanket and chair as a bear cave. As parents we have to keep them safe and teach them that jumping off the table might not be a good idea.

At the same time, we can encourage their imaginative play. We can follow their lead when coloring and avoid putting too many rules and restrictions on the right way to do things. Sure, we want them to learn the proper way to draw a line, but we want them to learn that so they’re able to make something creative with their lines.

Using Parenting Styles to Develop Children’s Creativity 

We’ve been joking a lot around here lately about the idea of helicopter parents transforming into snow plow or lawnmower parents. As you may know, helicopter parents hover overhead constantly watching every aspect of their kids life. Take it one step further and snow plow or lawnmower parents are out in front paving the way for their kids.

Neither of those parenting styles seem like they’re going to help develop the children’s creativity and imagination. So what will?

It seems that experts agree that the most beneficial parenting style includes a balance of healthy boundaries and freedom, both nurturing and giving responsibility, and providing warmth as well as necessary discipline.

Supporting and Nurturing a Sense of Adventure

To me this makes perfect sense when I put it alongside everything I know about creativity. One must have self-confidence, independence, and an understanding that we can learn from our failures. This type of person would be more likely to be open to new experiences as well as be able to come up with multiple creative solutions to a problem.

Part of why we created our children’s book, ABCs of Adventure, was to encourage our kids to see and explore the beauty of the world. Life has so much to offer young, hungry minds. I think of being open to adventure as another way of being open to new experiences.

I’ve learned many great lessons while exploring outdoors and trying new things. I’ve come up with great ideas while on a hike or watching a sunset. It makes sense that cultivating self-confidence and a sense of adventure would benefit my children’s creativity.

Developing Creative Thinking

When it comes to creative thinking, we need to develop the ability to see multiple answers and a variety of solutions. Anyone that’s been on an adventure or spent time playing outdoors is familiar with that free-flowing feeling you get when you step away from your typical day. 

A study by Lieberman referenced in wikipedia “highlighted the link between behaviours of divergent thinking, or creativity, in playfulness during childhood and those displayed in later years, in creative adolescents and adults.” Divergent thinking is high when we’re children and it wanes as we grow up and start trying to find the “right answer.”

This is where that balance between boundaries and freedom comes in. Too much divergent thinking can be dangerous for children who don’t understand right and wrong, that’s why we create boundaries. However, if we don’t also give our children freedom within those boundaries we are stifling their ability to think creatively.

Below is my 5-step process, or my 5 goals for cultivating my kid’s creativity and imagination.

5 Goals to Develop Children’s Creativity and Imagination

1: Get out of the way: give them space, unstructured time, and independence. Ask them open-ended questions that don’t have one right answer and

2: Encourage exploration, experimentation, playing, curiosity, adventure, trying new things, and time in nature

3: Help build their confidence and independence

4: Encourage divergent, flexible, and creative thinking

5: Show them that failure is part of the game and safe risk taking is worth it

Let me know what you think. Oh and check out our children’s picture book!

other creativity resources

Next, check out other words for creativity or these creativity affirmations, creativity journal prompts and 10 minute meditation for creativity.

If you’re interested in more meditation for creativity, check out my free recordings on Insight Timer. Here are some you might enjoy:

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We are Marc and Brenda Bergreen, a husband and wife photography team specializing in outdoor weddings and other adventures.

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