Eat a Cookie

Eat a Cookie

Education December 15, 2019 / By Joanne Foster, EdD
Eat a Cookie

There’s an old adage, “There’s no time like the present.” However, Is NOW really the best time to be creative?

“Today me will live in the moment, unless it is unpleasant in which case me will eat a cookie.” ~ Cookie Monster

When is it a good time to “live in the moment” and to allow creativity to flow? And what if kids are just not feeling it? 

Answers will vary based on the individual, and on circumstances, past experiences, and attitude. Creativity is a choice, and for some people the time has to be “right,” the mood has to be sublime, the stars have to align, or there has to be incentive (like cookies, perhaps)… Other people are not so fussy, and they will seize any opportunity to stretch the imagination, cast a creative veneer on the ordinary, transcend boundaries, challenge the status quo, take a leap of faith, or tackle a problem in a particularly inventive or original fashion. 

Lots of children exhibit creativity over the course of play, and when engaging in song, dance, games, writing, arts and crafts, roleplaying, and other activities. However, some kids need direct encouragement and reassurance before they will let creativity loose—whether by degrees or with abandon. 

Parents and teachers can consider when and how to help children maximize the moment(s)—and when to lay low. Creative juices can bubble along heatedly, or simmer slowly and thoughtfully. Moreover, creativity can be spontaneous, fragmented, or elusive.

Here are 25 pointers for adults to consider in order help children express and extend creativity.

1.   Keep in mind that best activities and creative outlets are well-suited to a child’s level of readiness and interests. 

2.   Encourage children’s questions. Be responsive to them. 

3.   Clarify expectations and goals. They should be fair, and doable in a reasonable time frame.

4.   Be accommodating of children’s areas of strength (or weakness) in different domains. It’s hard to be creative when struggling with understandings. People are more creative in areas where they feel competent.

5.   Stay open to wacky ideas. And, to far-fetched or seemingly sophisticated ones, too.

6.   Encourage reading, writing, open communication, and the use of technology.

7.   Beware… Overload. Complexity. Scrutiny. Pushiness.

8.   Reinforce the power of reflection. It enables children to link experiences with ideas, and then to explore and extend those ideas.

9.   Assure kids that it’s okay to ask for help if they need it. 

10.  Promote a sense of purpose. It can fuel momentum.

11.  Show faith in children’s abilities so they can feel confident about their skills, and about what they already know. Creativity builds from acquired knowledge. 

12.  Support and also model curiosity. It is one of life’s greatest gifts. 

13.  Help kids become resourceful. It can spark inquisitiveness and lead kids in exciting new directions. 

14.  Encourage children to critique their own ideas, and to go forward from there. 

15.  Facilitate multi-sensory experiences that will broaden children’s ways of thinking. 

16.  Help kids learn to prioritize—that is, to figure out what to pay attention to first, next and so forth—so in times of “busyness” they have opportunity for must-dos, but also for trying out creative possibilities.

17.   Promote collaboration, brainstorming, and the sharing of ideas. 

18.   Let kids know that creativity can be messy—and that’s just fine. 

19.   Help kids find a safe, comfortable place to think and to be creative. Perhaps quiet would be beneficial. Soft lighting may be soothing. Music can invigorate. Or a blank canvas or notepad might beckon. Eliminate distractions that interfere with motivation and creative energy. 

20.  Be patient. Don’t rush children’s creative endeavors. Give them enough time and space to consolidate their thoughts—and to revisit, revise, and augment them. And to rest, if necessary. 

21.  Respect children’s feelings on any given day, and realize that these can fluctuate.  

22.  Tap supportive circles comprised of family and friends for additional encouragement and support. 

23.  Using the imagination is a joyful pursuit! Help kids grasp the pleasure that derives from creative effort and from exercising their enthusiasms. 

24.  Check out these (and other) Creativity Post articles for additional related information and tips:

o   Reflective Habits of Mind—and Kids

o   “Aha!” Moments

o   What If Kids Avoid or Struggle with Creativity?

o   Great Expectations (And What to Do if They’re NOT So Great)

o   What Kills Creativity in Kids?

o   Creative Expression: Are Some Kids Missing Out?

25.  Get out the cookies—or whatever other incentive or form of comfort might help. Perhaps today is just not the right day for creative ideas. We all get stuck in the "now" sometimes…

“Keep calm and eat cookies.” ~ Cookie Monster

Maybe tomorrow will be a cheery, creative bonanza! In the meantime, relax and take it moment by moment…


AUTHOR'S NOTE: I opened and closed this piece with quotes by Cookie Monster—in honor of the 50th anniversary of Sesame Street, and as my way of publicly acknowledging all the wonderful and foundational lessons taught by the show’s characters. This includes appreciating questions, wackiness, reading, resourcefulness, patience, and connectivity with others, all of which are also key to creative expression. Thank you for the reassurances, playfulness, values, information, and happiness conveyed over the years to countless children—and adults. I think Sesame Street is the most creative and beloved program on television. It champions learning, and it has been an integral part of children’s lives around the world. Let’s continue to learn from the characters we’ve grown to love.


Joanne Foster’s most recent book is ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids: Hundreds of Ways to Inspire Your Child.  Readers can find further information about optimal child development by checking out Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids (by Dona Matthews and Joanne Foster.) Dr. Foster also wrote Bust Your BUTS: Tips for Teens Who Procrastinate (recipient of the Independent Book Publishers’ Association’s 2018 Silver Benjamin Franklin Award), and its predecessor Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination. To learn more about these books, and for access to a wide range of articles and links, please go to Information about professional development workshops and speaker sessions with Dr. Foster can also be found at this website.

For excellent resources on supporting and encouraging creativity and gifted/high-level development see the assortment of material at Gifted Unlimited LLC

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