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Five Ways To Foster A Hunger For Innovation In Children Being innovative isn't a gift bestowed on a lucky few, but a muscle one needs to exercise as early as possible.

By Helen Al Uzaizi

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You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


If there is one common denominator amongst the world's most successful entrepreneurs, it would be innovation. Not just in the sense of inventing a new technology or product, but finding creative solutions to age-old problems or a new way of looking at the world. Looking at it from another perspective, innovation is also key to business growth and sustainability. It's the innovative entrepreneurs who keep their businesses ahead of the game and adapting to the world ahead of them. Being innovative isn't a gift bestowed on a lucky few, but a muscle one needs to exercise as early as possible.

If you would like to foster this hunger for innovation in your children, there are some simple yet proven methods that can really help them in the future.

1. Encourage curiosity
Why is curiosity so important? Being inquisitive is one of the cornerstones of innovation. It takes a special mindset to keep questioning and wondering "How can I do this better?" or "How do I solve this problem?" By encouraging this curiosity around the house, you are in essence associating questioning positively. Hobbies are a great starting point, especially ones with a deeper scientific or artistic component, such as astronomy or even poetry. The more children are exposed to new ideas and perspectives, the greater motivation they will have to continue learning and diving deeper into the subject. In general, encouraging children to ask questions and positively reinforcing their natural curiosity will give them a life skill that can set them apart in any job or when they start their own business.

Related: Breaking Stereotypes: Separating Myth From Reality When It Comes To Young Entrepreneurs

2. The importance of thinking for themselves
Critical thinking requires conceptualizing, analyzing, and evaluating information, then putting it into a greater context. At school, our kids may get into the habit of memorizing information from a book for the sole purpose of repeating back on a test. This comes at a price however, and that is accepting all information that is presented in front of them. Innovators are able to look at long-held beliefs and question their validity, coming up with their own views which can lead to important technological developments. If we want our kids to think critically then we can help them by asking open-ended questions, giving them space to discover how things work, and develop their own hypotheses and ideas on the world around them.

3. Give them a creative and mentally stimulating diet
Innovation does not come out of the blue, it requires some sort of inspiration to get things started. Much like we need fruits and vegetables for a healthy diet, young minds need healthy mental stimulation. Creating an environment where your children are exposed to inspirational sparks, whether it be literature or nature, can get them hooked on seeking these triggers. Today's constant barrage of readily accessible media can seriously sap creativity and critical thinking. Instead of reading a book with complex thoughts, social media can provide that instant gratification we all seek. Getting your children to putting their phones down and taking them out on nature walks or encouraging them to read can give their young minds much needed mental stimulation. Any activity that requires utilizing all of their senses and thinking caps will shape their mindset for years to come.

4. The power of practical positive thinking
Where would all the world's greatest inventors be if they gave up on the first try?With a negative learning mindset, many young people can get stuck in the rut of "I can't." However, those with a more positive outlook will look at a problem and say, "It can be done, if…" When confronted by a problem, encourage your children to find a solution for it instead of giving up or saying it can't be done. Without providing too much of a crutch for them, when children learn to solve problems, it builds their self-confidence. The same self-confidence will make them positive thinkers who always look at challenges as problems to be solved versus obstacles that can't be overcome. Even if they do fail in their attempts, they will look at failure as something to learn from, rather than be defeated by it.

5. Nurture an appetite for risk
Innovative entrepreneurs are risktakers; they stood by their ideas when everyone else warned them otherwise. It takes more than a strong sense of self-confidence and positivity to take risks, it also requires a healthy relationship with failure. When our children face failure in their lives they can either learn from it and do better next time or let it overcome them, creating a self-fulfilling cycle that is difficult to escape. When our children go through difficult times or when they've made a decision that failed to pay off, we need to guide them to help realize there are valuable lessons to be had. This will help them develop a better grasp the concept of risk taking. This must be done at a healthy distance so they can come to this realization independently and better weigh their decisions in the future.

Related: Entrepreneurs Raising Entrepreneurs

Helen Al Uzaizi

CEO, BizWorld Middle East, and founder, Future Entrepreneurs

Helen Al-Uzaizi is the CEO of BizWorld Middle East, the region's leading entrepreneurship program for kids. She is also the founder of Future Entrepreneurs, an entrepreneurship education platform for the MENA region.

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