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Study Links Your Kid’s Wild Gestures With Increased Creative Thinking

flickr / Lars Plougmann

Research shows that your kid can learn a lot from what you do with your hands, but what can you glean from their gestures? According to a recent study, your tiny human’s tendency to talk with their hands could be a sign of creative genius.


The experiment had children from 9 to 11 years old look at a series of basic household items, like a newspaper or kettle. Then they asked the kids to name as many uses for the item they could in as much time as they needed. If the kids paused, researchers would ask “What else could you do with it?” Kids were asked to perform the exercise with and without wearing mittens that limited their ability to gesture. The study participants not only spontaneously gestured when they were thinking, but their hand gestures directly correlated with increased creativity.

Still, that doesn’t mean a pair of mittens will stop your creative kid from thinking that the kettle is a perfectly suitable bike helmet. But this did lead researchers to a second experiment, in which they tried to figure out if encouraging gestures boosts this creativity. Researchers had a comparable group of kids, ages 8 to 11, complete the same “alternative uses task,” but this time, encouraged select ones to act this out with their hands.

kid doing hand gesture

In the end, the encouragement worked and resulted in kids producing an average 53 ideas, compared to 13 in youngsters who gestured normally. This echoes past research that found that gestures help with problem solving in kids and adults. So if your kid seems stumped on something, encourage them to think with their hands as much as their head.

[H/T] Science Daily