Ways to Help Kids Develop their Creative Confidence

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently – Henry Ford

Ever wonder why your kid seems to do badly at creative writing even though you have tuition classes lined up? Think again. Besides the language ability, the fact that it is creative means there is a thinking process involved. Maybe your kid is lacking in the creative thinking arena? We commonly think that being creative means being different and original. Most importantly, this leads to the outcome of being effective in solving problems!

Take your workplace for example, do you prefer to hire a graduate who is good at solving mathematical problems with a rich vocabulary to describe proven solutions or someone who is a slight risk taker to explore and define the problem further before proposing solutions? You would probably prefer someone who is independent and able to think out of the box. This comes about only when someone is willing to explore, discover and generate solutions. It is important to help your kid understand when they go and start their career, their boss won’t ask what is X=Z. They are going to ask them, this is the problem I need you to solve it.

Our culture places a lot of emphasis on what’s on paper. Our kids are taught this in school from the start. Scoring well in exams matters more than understanding, questioning and creating. Often we become overly attached to ticking all the boxes instead of exploring, thinking and making sure there is integrity in what we do. In schools, kids are taught in a very narrow form of collaboration, which is to find somebody who thinks like them and then work together. I don’t think schools teach kids to really dig deep and to understand somebody else. Kids don’t understand users; they don’t understand other people really well.

But aren’t kids driven by the need to get good grades, to be more attractive in the job market?

Yes, but they vastly overestimate the value of grades in the job market. I think very few companies actually pay meaningful attention to grades. Whether you make the Dean’s List as you graduate or not is completely irrelevant, because you have gotten your job by the time employers find that out, and I don’t think companies are willing to make the decision weigh heavily on that.

I think it would be scary for kids to really understand why companies hire people. I think it has a lot to do with appropriate dress, speaking in a manner that can be readily understood by the listener, able to empathise, be a problem finder, able to solve wicked problems creatively, and an ability to hold a conversation and look the person in the eye. I think all this dramatically outweighs anything about your grades.

Beyond the usual academic curriculum, we as parents need to prepare our kids to have a creative mindset to develop them to cope with the complexities in the future world, be in for work or in making difficult life decisions. We used to live in the world where knowledge is king. That is a passe now as we have Google as our best friend that knows everything! We have become less focused on the ‘what’ and more of the ‘how’. And the ‘how’ is what brings us ahead! For our children to thrive in this new economy, they need to be able to create innovative breakthroughs by integrating ideas from diverse fields to meet complex human needs.

The greatest value is not found in providing new solutions to known problems, it’s in finding more valuable problems to solve. Kids are able to design an experience based on real knowledge of how people act and interact and want to engage, they have, in effect, broken down the barriers and eliminated the obstacles to human engagement in such a big way that people actually do connect, and relationships are formed and business gets done and is done better. We are doing this to better prepare children to succeed in the new global economy. 

Tips on how to develop kids creative confidence:

Do Not:

Fear of the Messy Unknown

Fear of the First Step

Fear of Losing Control

Fear of Being Judged

Jump to conclusions by making assumptions:

It is a natural reaction to immediately fill in any missing information by making up our own story. We do this because we like to try to make sense of people and situations.



Agree on the problem your children is trying to solve and what goals they want to achieve by working together. Emphasis a lot in collaboration and working as a group.


Try this challenge: Reach out to people in your community and gain their perspective on issues that matter to them. Ask the right kinds of questions and explore how people in your community live their lives. Discover their unmet needs. Interpret intangible meaning of those experiences in order to uncover insights.


Brainstorming rules: Defer Judgment. Encourage Wild Ideas. Build Upon Ideas Of Others. Be Visual.

Prototype it

Physically make a real-world version of the idea with whatever materials they have around them. Then test it with people in your community. Once they’ve gone through what materials they can work with, start making parts of the idea! Your children will figure a lot out just by experimenting. Make them fail and learn from failure. Thomas Edison once said: I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.



Teach your kids how to represent their ideas with simple sketches

Encourage “why?” questions

Put up a community chalkboard where anyone can post questions, make observations, or invite others to add to a rough idea

Expect failure as part of the learning process

Encourage daydreaming 

Do not teach your kids. Facilitate them through the process and allow them to teach us instead


Article contributed by: 

Ryan, Founder of Happiness Makers