When was the last time you created something from nothing?
You’re a grownup, so this probably happens when you forget to go to the store, so you have to throw dinner together with whatever’s in the back of the pantry. You use a little imagination, and some spice rack wizardry, and whip up something your family (hopefully) eats. It probably feels a little like adulting, but you also might (secretly) have fun with the process.
For children, creating something from nothing is their effortless art form. A child’s imagination is one of their greatest tools in learning how to interact with the world and themselves.
Not every child uses their imaginations the same way, but it should be encouraged for many reasons.
Here are a few of them:
- When a child uses their imagination, they’re also encouraging creativity. Unlike your pantry dinner, children are literally creating something out of nothing. They’re absorbing stories, scenarios and colorful images (like those on Twibbles apparel) and giving them life. Their minds are crafting whole worlds and then living in them.
- A child at play is also problem-solving, one of the most important skills a growing person can master. They’re using their imaginations to create stories, and stories require creative solutions as they progress. They’re thinking outside the box… while, maybe, playing in a box!
- When they’re playing pretend with friends, real and imaginary, children are also building social skills. They’re interacting positively to push toward a common goal.
- Imagining whole worlds and situations also go hand-in-hand with emotional development. Children who use their imaginations are better equipped to understand and express their emotions in a safe, controlled environment.
- Last but not least, imagination boosts self-confidence. Using your imagination takes effort, and creating something from nothing can create a sense of pride in our accomplishments. A positive self-image from a young age is absolutely essential.
Encouraging a child to use their imagination is fun for parents too!
Here’s one way to get down on the floor and get some imaginary play going:
Ask your child to pick a setting for your story. It can be anywhere they want. An undersea kingdom, the jungle, another planet, anywhere!
Now it’s time to find our hero. The hero can be your child, or anyone they want.
You’ve got your hero, so now it’s time to imagine something for them to confront. How about a dragon? Or an out of control spaceship? Or maybe even a herd of giant seahorses?
Now that you’ve got your setting, character and challenge, it’s time to figure out how to win! They could use teamwork or magic, special tools or brainpower. Anything goes at solution time!
Lastly, it’s time for your child to tell you their story. They could tell it to you aloud. They could draw it for you. They could even use stuffed animals. Any way they do it, encourage them to give you details about the world they’ve built using their imaginations. Have them describe the settings, characters and story in vivid detail.
Needless to say, you can adjust this game to the age of your child, but watching them solve problems, create worlds with their minds and build their storytelling abilities is a thrill!
And it’ll be inspiring for you because you’ll get to relive some of those imaginary experiences from your childhood too!
A child’s imagination is a wondrous thing to witness, and encourage. Their superhuman abilities, during this time, are absolutely essential for healthy growth, and also just a really great way to pass the time.
So let’s imagine together!