3 Ways Adults Kill the Creativity of Children

3 Ways Adults Kill the Creativity of Children

Do you know what kills the imagination? People.

Children have the best canvas for creativity because their imaginations haven’t been tainted by life and people. For the past four years, I have witnessed the most amazing creativity come from small children. I have also witnessed the deterioration of creativity in children at the hands of the adults that love them. I am sure it is not intentional, but its effects are detrimental. In order to remedy this situation, I decided to create an awareness with this post.

Here are 3 Ways Adults Kill the Creativity of Children:

  1. Tell them what they create is wrong
    The most frustrating situation I have encountered during one of our charrettes is a parent that suggests to a child that what they have created is wrong. It goes against everything that Next Great Architects stands for. I have witnessed the imagination of children shrink every time a comment like this is made.  While the adult believes he/she is correcting, they are actually deflating the child’s confidence in their own creativity. I usually have two rules for all the kids that participate in any NGA workshop. The first rule is to Trust your own Creativity.  Creativity is the imagination’s presence outside of ourselves. Everyone has their own imagination and thus will produce a unique creativity. There should never be a “wrong” when it comes to being creative. If you have ever found yourself “correcting” a child’s creativity, PLEASE STOP!


  1. Tell them how they create is wrong
    The second rule I have is that they understand that everything they do in their process is “right.” The process in which the imagination manifests as creativity is design. Design is a problem-solving process that directs the path to the result. Even if you make a “wrong” decision, it is actually a lesson learned and will still direct you to the “right” choice. Children learn differently, which means they process information differently. If a child is a tactile learner, you cannot expect them to listen to someone talk about how to solve a problem and then magically figure things out. Everyone will have a different process, that’s what makes it art. There is a way that you can show alternative strategies, but completely dismissing the way a child attempts to proceed is not only a confidence killer but can also hinder the learning experience.


  1. Take over their creations
    The worst thing you can do is take over a child’s project and/or task. One of the saddest things to witness, is a child who has been pushed to the back of their own creations. Children naturally want to create because they have the purest imaginations. When an adult takes over the child’s project, not only are they committing crimes 1 and 2 mentioned above, but they are also communicating that the child is not good enough. It’s as if the adult is saying, “Forget it. I will just do it myself.” The level of pain experienced by the child could range from low self-esteem to defiant anger. Even worse, they could abandon their creativity all together. This is the worst thing an adult can do to a child’s creativity.

Luckily, I haven’t had these things happen often, but the few times it has, was more than I am willing to accept. Each time I have found a way to plant seeds of encouragement. My hope is that it is enough for the child to keep their passion to create.