What do you see in a brown cardboard box? To a child, your plain karton could be an airplane, a table, or a house. With imagination, the possibilities are endless. For Professor Leonor Diaz of the University of the Philippines’ College of Education, imagination is the key ingredient of creativity, which she defines as “a child’s own perspective of looking at things, people, and events; it’s his unique way of solving problems or expressing an idea.”

Many folks seem to believe that creativity is innate—something you either have or don’t have. How many adults have you heard say, “Ay, di ko kayang mag-draw!” or “Ngie, hindi ako artist”? In fact, every person has the potential to produce something interesting and awe-inspiring. The difference between so-called creative people and their noncreative counterparts is that the former are aware of their abilities. This way, they tune in more to the ideas that float around in their heads.

To tap into a child’s creative streak, parents should provide two things: motivation and opportunities. Remember, children are naturally curious and inventive. All you have to do is give them room to grow.

Motivation, UP College of Fine Arts professor Rita Badilla stresses, is the key to harnessing natural talent—and may be even more so for those without it. “Even if creativity is innate,” she says, “it still has to be motivated early on and nurtured. If not, the child’s interest will go elsewhere. Parents have to be watchful and sensitive to the inclination of their kids.”

Professors Diaz and Badilla both gave some suggestions as to how to foster creativity in your child. Check out their tips in the slideshow below.

For more on helping kids discover their own creativity, read the articles linked below:

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(Originally published as “Just Imagine” in Good Housekeeping Philippines, October 2003 issue. Photo by <cleverCl@i®ê> via Flickr Creative Commons.)

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