Children are naturally imaginative. Leave them alone for 10 minutes without toys, and for sure you’ll find them transforming everyday objects into props for their fantasy worlds. Ask little girls what Prince Charming looks like, and each child will give you a different picture based on their individual personalities and experiences. Introduce them to a new experience and soon you’ll get more questions than you can answer. Give them crayons and blank paper, and it won’t be long before you have a masterpiece in your hand.

Creativity, the process of being able to come up with something original and worthwhile, is a great skill to enhance in our kids. Creativity is great for enhancing self-esteem and mental health; it gives kids something to not just enjoy but also be proud of. Creativity is also at the root of great problem-solving skills. If your child can learn early that there are more ways to approach dilemmas than what’s prescribed by the norm, then for sure they will not feel helpless when faced with a wall.

How can you enhance your child’s creativity? Consider the following tips:

Encourage unstructured play

Many of today’s games have pre-set rules determined by other people. How should we play tag? Oh, one person is “it” and everyone runs. Structured games are good too; kids need to learn how to play within boundaries as well. But if you want to develop your child’s creativity, invest in games where “anything goes!” Use boxes for a makeshift room and tell your child the box can be anything he or she wants — rocket ship, dollhouse, restaurant, disco. Creativity is explored when it’s your child who can fill in the blanks. The benefits of playing games with your child is overwhelming.

Affirm your child’s creative efforts

Sometimes, parents don’t notice the ways they belittle their children’s creative efforts. When our kids come home with a drawing from school, we might be too busy to have a look. When our kids take out all the paper from the stockroom to build enough airplanes to populate an airport, we first scream “clutter!” before seeing the imagination behind the activity. Make it a point to tell your child “great job!” and “would you like us to make more of these?” It’s our encouragement that can turn stick figures into a Mona Lisa!

Encourage right-brain activities

Creativity can be enhanced by exposing kids to activities that can enhance their right brain function. These can include singing, dancing, painting, theater, sports, debate, philosophy and creative writing. If you can, make it a point to enroll your kids in extra-curricular activities that match his or her interests. Clubs that offer these kinds of enrichment courses need not cost you; there are community centers that offer these activities for free or for a low fee.

Ask creativity-provoking questions

Lastly, you can use everyday problems to get your child to think of creative solutions. Give your kid two random objects and ask: what do you think we can do with these two? Or perhaps include them in the decision-making process — let them decorate their own room, for example, and don’t cringe if you don’t like the results! Encourage out-of-the-box thinking: “That’s a good idea, but let’s see if we can come up with new ways of attacking this problem that we haven’t tried before.” You can actually transform these question-and-answer moments into opportunities for bonding with your child!