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If creativity is important to you, it is surely doubly important to you that your children have creative minds. As their parent (or teacher or caregiver) you can do a lot to ensure your children maintain and grow their creative minds.

Research is demonstrating that children rapidly lose their creative thinking skills as they grow older. Moreover, by the time children reach adolescence, the way they think is largely fixed. So the more you encourage your children to use more of their minds in order to think more creatively, the more likely you are to raise exceptionally creative children.

Here are suggestions for encouraging and maintaining creativity in your children.

1. Answer Questions with Questions.

Children ask lots of questions. As parents, we tend to give them direct answers. “What does ‘invertebrate’ mean?” a child might ask while watching a television documentary. A typical parent response is: “It means an animal that does not have a backbone.” There is nothing wrong with such an answer. It is correct. It provides your child with the information she seeks. But, why not ask: “What do you think ‘invertebrate’ means?” Your child has just watched a documentary about animals and has a lot of context in her mind. Very likely she can put that context together and hazard a good guess. Indeed, she has possibly done this already and is simply seeking confirmation. If her answer is correct, reward her and ask her how why she felt it was the correct answer. If her answer is wrong, reward her and ask her why she thought this was the answer. Then, reward her thinking and explain the correct answer. If you are not sure about the correct answer, see the next suggestion. Encouraging your child to gather information and make deductions based on that information is a form of creative problem solving. Make it a habit!

2. Find Answers Together

As your children grow older, they will increasingly often ask questions that you cannot answer. As a parent, you may occasionally feel the need to cover up your ignorance. After all, your children look to you as the ultimate source of knowledge. At other times one of your children will ask a question in which you believe you know the correct answer, but are not sure.

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Ten Suggestions for Raising Creative Kids