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We all want our kids to become creative adults. People who think outside the box have an edge. Creative people are more successful. And studies show they are happier as well. A curious, creative mind is one of the greatest gifts we can give our children.

What is creativity? Creativity is the ability to generate new ideas and connect them together to solve problems. Highly creative people have made friends with their right brain. They’re open to new and unconventional solutions. Fresh ideas come easily to them. They’ve learned to connect to a source that is within each of us. And while some people are more creative than others, the good news is that we can all learn to tap into that source.

Creativity isn’t all about poetry and paintings. It’s role playing, baking brownies, launching a new business, or building a spaceship with legos.  Children develop and express creativity when they draw, collect seashells, and climb trees. When we’re fully engaged in a project, we say we’re in the “flow”.

Children require “think time” and unstructured time to imagine. Daydreaming helps us discover the path to that place within where we find inspiration.

Here are nine ways you can help your kids find their “flow state” or “muse”.  

  1. Be magical. Encourage a wealth of imaginative, playful ideas. Make a game of asking difficult questions and coming up with silly answers. Look for images in clouds and mosaics and patterns.
  2. Ease up on restrictions. Creative people have a need for originality and can resist rules and conventions. This is not a bad thing.
  3. Embrace flexibility. Rigid thinking will suck the creative juices out of your kids. Creative people are able to see different aspects of issues and come up with fresh solutions.
  4. Be an innovative, goal-oriented family. Set personal and family goals. Tackle difficult issues. Provide kids with opportunities to perform and recognize successes.
  5. Give your kids learning experiences. Use curiosity and creativity to solve problems that have no clearly defined answers. Creative people require a broad knowledge background to draw from. So haunt museums. Get a membership at the zoo. Frequent the library. Hike. Leave the city and stare at the stars. Ride the steam train to Mt. Rainier.
  6. Play an instrument. There are many ways to increase divergent thinking and music is one of the best. The brain is divided into a right and left hemisphere and the corpus callosum acts as a bridge between the two halves. Playing music increases the activity in the corpus callosum. This allows information to travel faster and through more diverse routes, increasing the number of creative ideas. Music also improves math skills.
  7. Value and reward curiosity at home. Engage your kids in meaningful conversation about the ideas and interests that mean the most to them. Reinforce curiosity when you see it in action.
  8. The power of art. Visual art and music strengthen learning and divergent thinking.  Paint a picture. Hang out with your kids at the art museum. Dance to music at home and add a little Beethoven or Tchaikovsky to the mix. Catch Seattle’s free Summer Concert Series.
  9. Imaginative play. Invite your kids to tell a story and write down what they say word for word. Then gather the family around and act out the story together.

 K.J. Larsen’s Cat DeLuca Mysteries, are published by Poisoned Pen Press. Larsens’ debut novel, Liar Liar, was awarded Library Journals Best Mystery, 2010. Liar, Liar, Sticks and Stones, and Some Like It Hot are available at the Seattle Mystery Bookstore and on Amazon. Cat’s fourth adventure, Bye Bye, Love, was released April 2015 and is available now.