Many people make the mistake of thinking of creativity as a single trait that they either possess or lack. In reality, creativity is a spectrum trait in which a person can build skills. Creativity is not only valuable in the arts, but in science, business, and technology. These simple steps can help you encourage creativity in children.

1. Allow your child to fail

It’s so easy to discourage your child from trying their own recipe for cookies in an attempt to shield them from disappointment. However, allowing children to make their own mistakes supports independence, self-esteem, and resilience. Maybe the cookies won’t taste very good, but that doesn’t mean making them was a waste of time.

2. Limit screen time

Technology has its place, but experts are warning that children are spending too much time in front of screens. Among other ill effects, excessive screen time can hamper a child’s creativity. When you watch TV, your brain is gathering information and absorbing the images in front of you. In order to engage in divergent or creative thinking, your brain needs a break from information gathering. Place firm limits on screen time, and suggest activities like reading, outdoor play or the arts.

3. Choose open-ended toys

To choose toys for encouraging creativity, look for items that can be played with in more than one way. Some examples of open-ended toys include blocks or other building materials, art supplies such as crayons, markers, paint, scissors and glue, simple dolls, and play silks. If interested in something more complex and involved, stocking up on Orbeez refills and purchasing an Ultimate Soothing Spa or a Magic Chef set can provide endless hours of fun! These toys facilitate creativity by easily adapting to your child’s ideas.

4. De-emphasize achievement

In our hyper-competitive culture, parents often get wrapped up in trying to ensure that their child is the best athlete, the smartest student, and so on. It’s great to encourage your child to do their best, but it can be harmful to emphasize achievement. Kids feel the pressure to succeed all too keenly and start to value the grades over the knowledge itself. Create a family culture that values doing one’s personal best instead of winning the trophy. In this kind of supportive environment, kids will be more likely to value creativity rather than the “right” answer.

5. Make room for creativity

Set up at least one area in your home where your kids can let their creativity go wild. Perhaps that’s a corner in your garage where paint spills won’t matter or a playroom where block cities won’t be tripped over. Also, be sure that your child’s schedule has room for creativity. If your children are kept constantly busy with homework or extracurricular activities, they just won’t have the time to flex those creative muscles.

6. Be a good example

As much as we might like it to be otherwise, children learn by observing others and imitating them. If they don’t see the adults around them modeling creative activities, they might conclude that they aren’t worthwhile. The solution is easy: pick up a hobby. It doesn’t matter how good you are at knitting or woodworking. Your child will be delighted with your efforts and will absorb the lesson that creativity is important.

By following these simple guidelines, you can give your children a great gift. Building creativity will help them achieve their goals in the future, but it can also benefit them now by giving them greater confidence, increased social skills, and coping abilities. The power of the imagination is undeniable, and it’s within your power to help your child unleash it.