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How to encourage teens to get more creative

Encouraging creativity and imaginative thinking often becomes a challenge as kids get older. Projects that require out-of-the box thinking may pull self-conscious teens right out of their comfort zone, when they’d rather be fitting in with their peers. Instilling the confidence to take creative risks is a gift that every parent can give their teen.

Teen girl playing guitar

At, the Center for Development and Learning provides a lengthy list of tips that educators can utilize in the classroom when working with teens. Here are five of their tips that parents can apply at home.

Model creativity

Your children will learn from example, especially when they are teens. It is important for your kids to see you pursuing hobbies that foster your own creativity. Whether you are a painter, writer, musician or even an avid reader, making creative and imaginative pursuits a priority in your own life encourages your teen to do the same.

Ask questions to encourage problem-solving

Take time to brainstorm and re-think the obvious answers when a problem arises. The creative process revolves around problem-solving, so make questioning assumptions a part of your everyday process. Learning how to ask questions is a valuable skill that teens will use throughout their life. Just as important is helping your teen learn timing when questioning general beliefs. After all, it’s not just knowing what questions to ask, it’s knowing when to ask them!

Don’t rush it

Often teens are rushed through answering questions in the classroom, on tests and while completing their homework. Allowing your teen time to create, ask questions and problem-solve provides the necessary space needed to hone creative talents. Help your teen learn to space out their daily schedule to avoid over-booking that leaves no time to think.

Encourage collaboration with others

Encouraging teens to collaborate with other creative people will help them to learn and will push them to continue their own creative growth. Help your teen to recognize and appreciate creative qualities in others that differ from their own.

Encourage risk-taking

Thinking differently and presenting creative solutions comes with the risk of failure. Help your teen by letting them know that it’s okay to falter — not every idea will be a game-changer. Taking sensible risks and throwing out thoughtful and unique ideas ultimately leads to innovation and success. Encourage your teen to keep trying, even when faced with the possibility of failure.

Jackie Tucker, PLPC, a specialist in child and adolescent therapy, recommends the following activities to spark imaginative thinking in pre-teens and teenagers:

  • Get outside and be active. Just being outside lends itself to imagination. Go for a nature walk, jump in a puddle and take in your surroundings.
  • Try team building activities. Encourage your teen to participate in problem-solving activities with their peers. This helps develop deductive reasoning, as well as creative thinking. Tucker suggests this activity of drawing an object just from a verbal description. Have two teens sit back-to-back — one with a photograph, one with a sketch pad. While the first teen describes the photo, the other draws a picture based on the description. Once it’s completed, both kids can compare their pictures and discuss the importance of learning from people who think differently.
  • Make a “self” collage. Provide your teen with poster paper, glue and magazines, then ask them to make a collage that represents their likes, dislikes, personality and goals. Praise and encourage the good things about your teen, and discuss any negatives that can be used creatively to accomplish a goal or make a positive change.


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