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In setting up Raising Natural Born Thinkers, I considered the following key question:

"What role can parents play in developing a child's creativity?"

Through a body of research, I have identified 5 key roles parents can adopt to nurture their child’s creative potential:

  1. Develop creative personality “super-factors” i.e., work to develop the 3 super-factors of a creative personality including, convergence, divergence and plasticity1
  2. Give children unique “creative stock” i.e., family traditions, experiences, activities, art and stories that form a child’s unique set of memories, knowledge and beliefs
  3. Be champions of children’s creative development i.e., cultivate, coach and celebrate creativity to develop creative confidence and self-belief
  4. Be role models of creative practice i.e., indulge in our own creative interests, play with our children and embrace experimentation!
  5. Help children discover their creative identity i.e., help our children to find their interests and fall in love with them

These are by no means a finite list, but I think are a great starting point.  As such, I have provided more details about each of these roles below and some ideas on how to activate them.  

However, if you are looking for a quick and more memorable quote to consider the role parents play in developing a child’s creativity, then I leave you with the wise words of Albert Einstein:

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”
― Albert Einstein


Roles Parents Can Adopt To Develop
A Child's Creativity

1)  Develop Creative Personality “Super-Factors”

Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire cite 3 “super-factors” of personalities1 that are highly correlated with creativity.  They describe them as follows:

  • Convergence: The ability to conform…and make ideas tenable
  • Divergence: Reflects a nonconformist mindset and independent thinking; fosters the generation of novel ideas

  • Plasticity: The tendency to explore and engage with novel ideas, objects and scenarios

There is a strong perspective that school education systems are geared heavily towards promoting convergent and conventional thinking as children conscientiously demonstrate learnt knowledge to achieve high grades in standardised tests.

Some believe that this “conformity comes at the cost of originality”2 i.e., the focus on convergent thinking is at the detriment to developing divergent thinking skills.  However, on the flip side, some believe that knowledge and literacy lay the foundations for creative thinking.3

A whole separate article can be written about the education system and its impact on creativity, however, using Kaufman’s and Gregoire’s model, convergent thinking is an important factor for creativity, but is only one of the super-factors.

To truly maximize a child’s creative potential, all factors of a creative personality should be developed.  Therefore, parents can complement the education system’s focus on convergent thinking by focussing more deliberately on developing their children’s divergent thinking and plasticity.


A few practical ways to do this include:

  • Provide space for children to daydream – not every hour of their day needs to be scheduled
  • Play games at home that invite children to exercise their imagination i.e., dress-up and imaginary play activities
  • Offer new experiences and ideas to help kids develop openness to new activities, skills and perspectives
  • Create together with no pre-set result i.e., the opportunity to freely express creative instincts


2)  Give Children Unique "Creative Stock"

John Updike, the American novelist, said:

“Memories, impressions, and emotions from your first 20 years on earth are most writer’s main material!”

As parents, the time we spend with our children and the cultures and experiences we expose them are likely to have a highly influential impact on our child’s creative development. 

The more varied content and experiences we can expose our children to, the more “stock” they will have to create with as they make new and dynamic neural connections across their diverse set of memories, knowledge and beliefs.

To help your children develop their creative stock, consider the following actions:

  • Take your children to different museum exhibitions
  • Go on new walks to explore the countryside
  • Read lots of different stories
  • Go to new places…both locally and abroad
  • Try new recipes from different cultures
  • Immerse in family traditions and practices

Our unique mix of DNA and experiences make our brain like no-one else’s, giving us the ability to have an idea no-one else can!


3)  Be Champions of Creative Development

When it comes to developing belief in our creative ability, 3 different types of confidence4 have been identified by creativity researchers Karwowski, Lebuda, & Beghetto, 20194:

  • Creative Confidence Beliefs: Confidence in ability to produce creative ideas
  • Creative Self-Awareness Beliefs: Awareness of own creative strengths and limitations
  • Creative Self-Image Beliefs: Own sense of creative self…these beliefs, in part, take shape from the experiences people have

(Content adapted from pg 397 in reference 4, “The Cambridge Handbook of Life Span Development of Creativity”)

It is important to create a culture at home that cultivates, coaches and celebrates creative practice so that confidence can be developed across each of these different belief sets. 

This can be as simple as:

  • Praise each drawing or creative attempt your child makes
  • Notice what is unique about your child’s creative style and share this with them
  • Keep open minded about the creative work your child presents…try to see it through their eyes, not your own!
  • Put their artwork up in special places on the wall at home for all to see!
“Feedback from others helps form…– a sense of creative effectiveness – and can boost one’s motivation”
- (
Lebuda & Csikszentmihalyi)4


4)  Be Role Models for Creative Practice

Our children grow and learn by watching their parents.  Our approach and attitude to creativity is therefore critical in developing their own appreciation and focus on it.

“To express oneself creatively, one has to see creativity as important for one’s identity …and understand…it is worth trying to be creative” (Beghetto, & Karwoski; 2017)4

A few ways to practice creative role modelling to your kids include:

  • Talk about art, music and books you love and why!
  • Take time out for yourself to read, draw, bake, decorate etc.
  • Play with your kids! Get involved in their games, playing the roles your children create for you…you don’t have to invent it!
  • Embrace mess…don’t be afraid of letting your children make a little mess as they explore their creatitivity (as long as it is safe to do so!)…not everything has to look and be perfect all of the time!
“We as parents are our children’s first and best role models”
- Michelle Obama

5)  Help Children Discover Their Creative Identity

Help your children to discover and nurture their interests which are critical to forming their creative identity.

“One way to think about creative identity development is to recognise that it starts with exploration and development of interests (Hidi & Renninger, 2006).  As they become more developed and focused, they can become aspirations and eventually part of one’s identity (Beghetto, 2013; Beghetto & Dilley, 2016)”4

Even better, go one step beyond and help your children to find an interest they can fall in love with!  In his work with creative achievers, in 1983 E.P. Torrance noted:

“One of the most powerful wellsprings of creative energy…seems to be falling in love with something!”2

As parents we are perfectly positioned to observe our children’s emerging and evolving loves and interests.  We also have the ability to help them pursue these interests by providing both physical and emotional support.

Some ways in which to do this include:

  • Notice when your child becomes interested in something; find materials, activities, programmes, books to help them explore and pursue it
  • Talk to your child about their interests to help them express what they like about it and why it is important to them
  • Share in their interest with them i.e., go to different events, read books together etc.
  • Be open to your child safely exploring their interests and the ideas that emerge from them i.e., what they choose to wear, where they choose to go etc.



  1. Kaufman, Scott Barry, Gregoire, Carolyn, “Wired to Create: Unravelling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind”, ‎Tarcherperige, Reprint Edition, 2016
  2. Kaufman, Scott Barry, “Ungifted”, Basic Books, Member of the Perseus Books Group”, 2003
  3. Astle, Jlian, “Do Schools Really Kill Creativity?,
  4. Russ, S W, Hoffman, J D, Kaufman, J C, “The Cambridge Handbook of Life Span Development of Creativity”, University Printing House, UK, 2022