Think Like a Child

Think Like a Child


We all know that children are generally more creative than adults.

Dr Stephanie Carlson, an expert on childhood brain development (University of Minnesota) explains that children spend up to 2/3 of their time in imaginative play.


Albert Einstein said

“To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclinations for play”.


Pablo Picasso said

“Every child is an artist; the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”.

As we grow up, our belief in our creativity changes.  We perceive that is a creative thought is a mysterious lightbulb moment that arrives without control. We believe some individuals are simply not creative but as children we naturally all are.


We make assumptions about adult creative types. We label them as not grounded in reality. We liken them to children (whom are the embodiment of creativity).

One of these child-like traits are linking creativity with a lack of self-control.

Adults are self-controlled, and creativity is child -like, so therefore creative adults appear to be more child-like.

What is the definition of self-control…it is a group of mental processes that includes the ability to hold things in the mind, to suppress an action that might be the first choice (for e.g. an inappropriate comments/actions) and the ability to shift the focus of attention to adapt to an awkward situation.


The self -control function is not fully developed until the teenage years.

Dr Carlson studies the development of imaginative play and the function of self-control asking if there is a correlation between the two.

Her conclusion is they do work in collaboration with each other, during development.


In the process of pretending, you have to hold things in mind and inhibit reality.

Her example is, if you are pretending a spoon is a car, you have to remember that it IS a car and not put it into your mouth, thus exercising self-control.


Dr Carlson’s conclusion is that practising pretending helps one to come up with alternative ways of being, resulting in more creativity and better problem-solving.


When an adult is facing a challenge, they need to let go of self-control and re-ignite their child-like imagination and then look at the problem again to find more creative possibilities.


Prepare like an adult but also act like a child.