Creativity comes in many forms, and it’s up to parents to explore the full spectrum with their children as they grow and evolve. “Children are strikingly creative when encouraged by loving, observant adults,” says Syracuse University Professor Emerita of Child Development Alice Sterling Honig, PhD. “Give a child a necktie and she or he may conjure how to use it as a seatbelt, a sash, a leash for a doggie, a tail for a kite, and further! Play dreamy music like ‘The Skater’s Waltz,’ and toddlers move their bodies in graceful, creative ways. With gentle support, children can unleash creativity early in a myriad of domains and ways, with an unlimited array of materials and gadgets. Nurture their budding talents!”
Parents should also be aware that children’s creativity levels may naturally fluctuate with time. “Developmental research has found that children’s creative thinking ability tends to decline during middle childhood,” says Manish Saggar, PhD. “However, this decline has not been consistently demonstrated, and the underlying neural and behavioral factors that affect fluctuations in children’s creative thinking ability remain uncharacterized.” To help get to the bottom of this mystery, Saggar and his colleagues conducted a longitudinal study investigating the neurobehavioral basis of creative thinking ability during middle childhood in a sample of 48 children. “We found that although some children show a classic decline in creative ability, others exhibit a significant increase in creativity over time. These trajectories were not associated with differences in intelligence, age, or sex, but rather other developmentally-relevant constructs, including heightened externalizing behavior (i.e., rule-breaking and aggression).”
In the end, the experts agree that creativity is for everyone, and the earlier we encourage it in our children, the more beneficial it will be in the long run. Creative kids lead to creative adults, and the kind of problem-solving skills that children begin honing in their youth will inevitably come in handy down the line, whether they’re writing a symphony, figuring out an algebra problem, pitching a startup, designing a website or solving a major societal problem. With these tips in mind, families will enjoy exploring the world of imagination and embracing their creativity.
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