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Creativity and Young Children

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Adult and child painting.

Creativity is always available if you want or need to use it.

You can think it through slowly and deliberately, or you can seize it

quickly or spontaneously on the fly.” ~ Ignite Your Ideas (p.3)

Creative Energy in Children

Five-year-old Suzi decided to make a green frog out of pompoms and paper, and then she designed and decorated a tissue box “home” for it. She was focused and independently productive, using tape, markers, stickers, and glue, and she was delighted with her final product. She was thrilled to “show and tell” her family after she was finished. Suzi reveled in the positive feedback and shone with a sense of accomplishment. She was eager to begin another creative activity and ran to get more paper.

Creativity can be fulfilling and exciting! How can parents foster this kind of effortful momentum?

Encourage Children to Share Ideas

Children may not always feel inclined to reveal their ideas to others. Many “creators” (young, old, and in-between) prefer to tackle tasks independently (like Suzi) and dislike interference while they’re engaged in an activity. Whether it's singing, drawing, sculpting, making a frog house, or something else, if they choose to do things on their own, that’s great! However, when or if children are ready, it can be very gratifying for them to share their ideas and outcomes. (Note, however, if a task is potentially hazardous. Then close supervision is prudent throughout.)

When children are busy exercising their creative impulses, parents and/or extended family can offer encouragement—without intruding. It’s important to respect children’s effort and agency! Some kids may want ongoing reassurance or assistance, or a chance to share their progress step-by-step. Others may require additional resource materials, or have questions or concerns that pop up rarely, or from time to time. Ensure that children know that caring adults are readily accessible to bolster creative journeys by offering feedback, a safe environment, help, a calming presence, or fresh points of view.

Teacher and author Mark Hess uses the word “tailwinds” to refer to such support/supporters. For example, responding to inquiries, conveying enthusiasm, and giving reinforcement or constructive suggestions can increase a child’s motivation, productivity, and confidence. Moreover, tailwinds can invigorate situations and environments as well as abilities or outcomes. Parents, teachers, grandparents, friends, coaches, neighbors (and other people kids trust) can all be tailwinds. BUT, just as importantly, a child’s own strengths, self-assurance, and creativity can serve as their personal tailwinds—and be empowering! Adults can emphasize this concept by helping children learn to value their own creative impulses and flow of ideas, which have the potential to enrich and inspire!

Make a “Personal Tailwinds/ All About Me” Poster

Here’s another creative idea that might appeal to kids, and also enhance their personal tailwinds. Why not encourage them to focus on their successes and aspirations? Young children are often keen to showcase themselves—their strengths (cartwheels, skating, swimming!?), interests (hair braiding, trucks, dance!?), preferences (ice cream, silly stories, lemonade!?), and so on. The opportunity to create a poster all about themselves can be energizing and fun! It can feature keywords, pictures, or ideas that are important to them, including activities they enjoy, people they know or want to know, foods they like or want to try, places they’ve seen or hope to visit, and other things that reflect who they are or hope to become when they grow up. They can collaborate with others who know them well. As noted above, sharing can be motivating!

Children can hang their “personal tailwinds/all-about me’ poster on a wall at home. They can keep adding to it as they discover new interests and abilities, and as their connections continue to grow—and as they grow, too. Kids can also make and share “all about” posters for family members or others. These make thoughtful gifts! Moreover, posters can be assembled as pages for a one-of-a-kind family scrapbook, which can be extended over time.

Last Words

The suggestions here are starting points to help children kindle, share, and boost their creativity. There’s no limit as to where, when, or how they might find inspiration! Being creative is about seeking, finding, and seizing opportunities to be original, use the imagination, and experience the joy! And, as I said initially, “Creativity is always available if you want or need to use it.”

Author’s Notes:

For more on effort and agency, see Chapter 7 in Ignite Your Ideas: Creativity for Kids.

Mark Hess has written several books, including I Used to Be Gifted. Find out more about his work by visiting his website at


Joanne Foster, Ed.D. is a multiple award-winning author of eight books. Her most recent is Ignite Your Ideas: Creativity for Kids. To find out about her publications and presentations, and for resources on supporting children’s well-being and learning, go to

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