The creative parent

Learn tips for becoming your child's creative role model.

To foster creativity, you don't have to be Pablo Picasso. When you sidestep conventional wisdom and keep an open mind, taking delight in trying new things, you emerge as a marvelous role model—a creative parent!

Your own example is important, and so is an ability to:

Entertain the unusual
Left to their own devices, kids come up with many unusual ideas. Be receptive—if kids are taught to suppress unusual ideas, they'll be less likely to brainstorm and innovate later on.

Listen carefully
When your child knows that you are really listening to him, he is encouraged to develop his ideas and to expand his thinking. Of course, before you can listen, you'll have to get beyond your child's monosyllabic "yes" and "no" answers. Don't be discouraged by them—always follow up with concrete questions and make them as open ended as possible. For instance, suppose your child saw a display of musical instruments in school. What did the saxophone look like? Which instrument sounds the way it looks?

Be patient
Try and follow your child's rhythm, not your own.

Encourage perseverance
Don't offer your child too many options. Encourage him to follow through on whatever activity he chooses—and don't do it for him!