Is Your Teen Creative? Fostering Creative Thinking Begins at Home

We have all read the stories about how creative people are solving world challenges. How can you tap into creative thinking? More importantly, as the parent of a teen, how can you inspire within them the lifelong habit of creative thinking? It begins in your home.


First, let’s look at the research. We are most creative when we employ divergent (non-linear) thinking. According to the UK government’s report on literacy, our ability to be divergent thinkers decreases as we grow older. It drops from 98% of the time when our 3-5 years old to 10% of the time when we are 13-15 years old.*
Why does this drop occur? Researchers believe some of this is due to our desire to conform, to not stand out, as we grow older. This is especially true in the academic lives of our teens.


But all is not lost. Parents of teens can encourage them to be divergent academic thinkers again and stimulate their creativity. Here are a couple of quick examples:

1. Freedom from mistakes. When your teens are learning new skills, mistakes happen. At home, encourage your teens to learn new business communication skills, and don’t go overboard when they make mistakes! It’s their safe place to make those mistakes before they head out into the world on their own.

a. Bonus Points. Tell them about times you have made mistakes and how you learned from them. Yes, be a role model in letting your teens know it’s okay to make mistakes. You get extra points if you can relate a time when you made a mistake and it turned out even better than you had originally thought it would.

2. Experiment with a new approach. If your teen has always done a task in a certain way but grumbles about how much they dislike it, encourage them to find a better way. Talk it over with them and support them in the process. Also, include some incentives…maybe a “dessert first” meal when they have created a new and better approach AND are happier about doing the task (interpretation: no grumbling). Here are a couple of examples to get you started:

a. Is there a better way to recycle more household waste and get the remaining garbage out to the curb more efficiently? Get your teens to give you their suggestions and try them out! Or is this a project they can take on completely?

b. Your teen has a favorite meal and you don’t always have time to make it. Can they learn to make it themselves? How about having them be responsible for getting the ingredients ahead of time?

3. Quiet time. Research suggests that we are all more creative thinking when we have quiet time by ourselves. When we are by ourselves, we no longer worry about looking silly or making a mistake in front of a group. So take away the peer pressure for your teen and encourage them to work solo on solutions from time to time. One other possibility? Working electronically with groups. Research suggests that the screen provides us with a sense of protection.

4. Expert for a Day. Create a new game in your home called Expert for a Day. Let your teen pick a subject, learn more about it, and then become the resident “Expert for the Day” in your home!

How else can you foster creative thinking in your teen?

Get your own creative, divergent thinking revved up. Grab some quiet time, experiment with a new approach, grant yourself freedom from mistakes, and become an expert on the life of your teen!

Your Success Is Your Choice

At Risepreneur, we believe that for you to achieve all you want to in life, you must be physically and mentally healthy. However, being healthy does not just happen. You must choose to do activities that support your own health and wellbeing, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, having a hobby, and letting go of stress. You must schedule these into your day just like you plan time for friends, work, learning and helping others.

By taking care of your body and your mental health, you are taking care of your success. It’s a foundational move. It’s your choice.

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