- 2 mins
How Fostering Imagination Can Help Kids Relax
Imagination . . . the ability of our minds to be creative, to think of new ideas without being restrained . . . a beautiful thing. The imagination of a child sets them free. It makes them fearless and opens a whole new world to them where social norms, rules, and expectations have little or no impact.
Our kids need to use their imagination to help them grow on many different levels. In a world of imagination, a stick can turn into a magic wand, a snake, a sword, or a balance beam. A child can be a hero, a ballerina, a zookeeper, or a world-renowned orchestra conductor. Just imagine for a moment the freedom, exuberance, and increase in confidence this could mean for a child.
Zelevansky (2004) writes that Mr. Rogers was able to take everyday experiences and relationships and explore words, feelings, images, and even movement associated with them. One of the most significant impacts that he had on people was the way that he could make everyone feel loved, valued, and cared for. Fred Rogers celebrated uniqueness and imagination; something that makes every individual feel special.
Our children today grow up in a world where boredom is often seen as something negative, something that should be avoided. For some reason, we don’t want our kids to be bored; it’s almost as if we are scared of what might happen if they don’t have anything to occupy themselves with. However, a bored child could be a child on the verge of discovery and exploration. There might be an adventure waiting for them! Their bedroom could transform into rough seas and our child, the fierce pirate, is braving the raging waters in the safety of their pirate ship (their bed). Or a piece of blank paper could change into a brand-new invented board game with hours of fun waiting to happen.
We are so used to offering options, providing toys, and suggesting games to play, that we need to learn how to stop doing that. Give your child a chance to feel bored and then let them figure out how to deal with that. You could guide them a bit by setting up some props for them to get started. Empty containers, boxes, and toilet rolls are easy and inexpensive, and could provide lots of fun!
Sometimes we feel pressured to enroll our children in swimming, dancing, music, art class, and sports. This is especially so when we hear about all the extra-curricular activities that other children are participating in. Don’t be afraid to consider what is best for your child and your family. If you are racing from one activity to the next every day of the week, how much downtime would your child have? Our kids need downtime even more than we do. These times also provide great opportunities for creativity and imaginative play.
Yes, you read that right! Our kids do not need all the latest games or the most expensive toys. Fun, interactive learning experiences are waiting to happen when we choose to spend a few minutes of downtime with our children rather than buying them a new toy.
Even though these strategies are very simple and practical. It might take a bit of time for us and our children to get used to them. Don’t give up—let’s take that first step toward helping our children become resilient and creative. Just imagine what their future may hold…
Zelevansky, P. (2004). “The Good Thing”: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 64(2), 195–208.