Karyn ColeKaryn Cole Karyn Cole is the lucky mom of 2-year-old girl/boy twins, Mia and Miles. After teaching elementary school for over 15 years, she now spends her days trying to enrich her class of two and organizing the chaos that is her household. After bedtime, she enjoys baking, crafting, and watching bad reality TV.

If you want a creative child, adjust your expectations.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

So said Albert Einstein, and I am inclined to agree. In this day and age, with the answer to any question literally in our pockets, creativity is the key to a better future. Without the power of imagination, and the urge to work outside of the given boundaries, most of the innovation and technology we take for granted today wouldn’t exist.

Creativity is a skill that grows with practice, and we need to start early. So, how can I begin to teach my toddlers to think for themselves?

How can I raise a creative child (or two)?

Let go of your expectations.

For me, step one was realizing I needed to relinquish control. This is not easy for someone who has been (somewhat) affectionately known as a control freak my whole life. I had to get over my idea of what an art project was supposed to look like, how tools were supposed to be used, how toys were supposed to be played with. And let me tell you, it is not easy. I have to constantly bite my tongue as my kids swirl the paint together, creating a lovely mud color. And who am I to tell them that the plastic Tupperware lids aren’t ice skates? But by allowing them to experiment and do things their own way, they are learning to come up with and test their own ideas.

Don’t serve as “director” for pretend games.

As my toddlers entered the pretend stage, I found myself constantly giving them scenarios to guide their play. “Have a picnic with your stuffed animals.” Or “ Use your doctor kit to give your doll a checkup.” They enjoyed these pretend games, but soon they were always looking to me for an idea. I decided I needed to back off and see what they came up with on their own. Who knew what they really wanted to do was make their favorite “chocolate carrots” in the play kitchen? Maybe that is the next big thing waiting to happen, and we will all miss out on that nutritious, chocolaty goodness if they wait for me to tell them to make spaghetti and meatballs. A creative child thinks for himself or herself — and we as parents must foster that.

Expect a mess and plan for it.

Let’s face it, creativity is rarely a tidy process. And I am generally a person who prefers her house not to look like a Picasso painting. I am learning to relax about the mess, knowing it’s not permanent. But I take precautions when I can. I only let my twins loose with washable art supplies, strip them down to save their clothes, and banish them outside to the patio whenever possible.

I know a day will come when my children won’t need or want my assistance. They will have to solve difficult problems on their own. I want to know they will have the ability to look at situations from every angle and think out of the box when looking for solutions. I want them to respect everyone’s ideas, even if they differ from their own. If I manage to do that, I will feel I like a success as a mom.

Even if I never get to eat a chocolate carrot. What are your favorite things for kids to do creatively?

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Category: Mom Lessons