Kids are naturally curious, therefore making them naturally creative. Children can take a liking to random items, making them the most fantastic toy in the world, in their eyes. A child’s imagination truly has no end, and stimulating their creativity can give them an array of skills to use later in life. Indeed, piquing your child’s creativity when they are young has a laundry list of immediate benefits. In addition, boosting creativity can also help them achieve success in their adult years. In fact, children who establish creative habits and practice them into adulthood were found to be more innovative and business-savvy than their counterparts. So, how can you get your kids to be more creative? We’ve compiled several creative kids parenting tips to help.

Initiate creative playtime

Playing with your child one-on-one or allowing them to engage in free play with other children can help them in a myriad of ways. Easy ways to participate in play include playing pretend, dressing up, and using toys and dolls as the subjects of play. Many of the benefits of play become obvious even once children reach Kindergarten. These benefits can include enhanced literacy, leadership skills, and comfortability with movement. When it comes to reading skills, children establish a better understanding of symbolism when they play pretend with everyday items. This enhanced understanding of the symbols in our everyday lives can help children recognize letters of the alphabet and what sounds they make as children begin to learn to read. Children also develop leadership by putting themselves in positions of power during pretend play. This can come in the form of the child playing “teacher,” “mommy” or “daddy,” superheroes, or other authority figures. By putting themselves in roles with more authority, children learn how to assert themselves and gain self-confidence. Kids can also work on their motor skills, balance, and coordination by engaging in physically-active play. This can include games like hide-and-seek or a rigorous stint in the imaginary, pretend world. As your child moves more during creative play, they’re more likely to associate physical activity and exercise with fun as they grow older.

Turn off the TV

This creative kids parenting tip may sound difficult, but it’s worth it. As easy as it may be to turn on your child’s favorite program, think twice before sitting them in front of the television or the iPad. Screens are creative kids’ worst enemy. This is because watching television can actually reduce the originality in your child’s ideas, therefore inhibiting creativity. A study of 60 three-year-old children found that watching just 15 minutes of television each day resulted in less original ideas. The children in the study who watched television were found to be less creative compared to the children who read books or solved jigsaw puzzles.

“While there was very little impact of TV on the number of creative ideas generated, there was clear evidence that the children came up with less original ideas immediately after watching television although these effects seemed to disappear after a short time,” said Dr. Sarah Rose, a psychology lecturer who conducted the study. “Over time if children are less creative in their play, this could negatively impact their development.” So, although television keeps kids occupied, it isn’t doing any favors for their creativity.

Ideal toys for enhanced creativity

Instead of watching television or online shows, spark your child’s imagination by giving them toys they can engage with physically. These don’t necessarily need to be expensive toys, either. Items like playdough and multicolored crayons are a great start for stimulating your child’s creativity. When your child creates with these toys, be sure to ask them open-ended questions about their work. “What are you making?” leaves much more room for creativity and interpretation than definitive questions like “Is this a house?” or “Are you drawing a cat?” While it may seem insignificant, leaving your statements and questions open-ended allows your kiddo to identify their masterpiece in their own way. Books are also excellent tools for stimulating creativity in your child. Reading helps children (and adults for that matter) develop empathy and evaluate differing perspectives. By allowing your child to read books with you, they identify with multiple characters and understand different points of view. This can help your child build interpersonal skills, critical thinking, enhanced vocabulary, and deductive reasoning in the long run. When you sit down to read a book with your child, take time to not only read the story but to explore illustrations as well. This can be a fun way to help your child learn about the relationships within the narrative, the setting of the story, and more. The best part about using books to enhance your child’s creativity is their low cost. As for another creative kid’s parenting tip, consider joining your public library for an easy way to access new and old books for your child to enjoy. Learning a musical instrument from an early age is also excellent for sparking creativity in your youngster. This can help them expand their cognitive abilities, memory, and language skills faster than their non-musical counterparts.

When considering physical toys for creativity, this is only the beginning. There are always more specialized toys on the market to specifically help your child with mathematic skills, literacy, empathy and more. You can find a more definitive list of creativity-inspiring toys for kids by their age group here. However, it’s important to remember the most important rule of creative kids parenting tips: you don’t always need the “right toy” to make your child more creative. What it really boils down to is giving them the opportunity to express themselves in playful ways. Happy creating!