A Child’s Imagination

boy and girl playing on three tree log

Creativity isn’t necessarily what we do, but more in how we think. A flexible thinking attitude influences how we see the world around us. Creative thinking can become a habit, which then becomes a character trait – and a highly-valued one in today’s world. Now the question becomes, how do we help our children become creative adults?

Creative adults don’t just happen. Creative people are usually raised in ways that encourage them to use their imagination while they are still children. But what can parents or grandparents – or any adult vital to a child’s life – do if they want to encourage their children’s creativity? Well, one way is to help them develop a rich fantasy life.

Of course, kids need to be able to tell the difference between fact and fantasy. But a child who grows up without reading books such as, “Winnie the Pooh,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Alice in Wonderland,” or any number of new children’s books is missing an extraordinarily rich part of childhood. You can also feed a child’s imagination through activities such as music, dance and art. If it’s possible, gardening is a time-honored method for learning how things grow, seeing the future plant in the tiny seeds sitting in the palm of their hand.

Another wonderful way to help develop a child’s imagination is to tell them stories and encourage them to tell stories too. By the way, telling stories is not the same as reading stories, and children really love the stories you tell about your own experiences as a child – particularly when you were their age. Relax and use sound effects, elaborate gestures, and lots of variations in pace and loudness – the more the better. And while you’re at it, go ahead and invent details that make your narrative more interesting too.

Try using a picture from a magazine and make up a story. Then, pick a different picture and let your child try. Or start a story and let the child supply the ending. The point is to fire up the child’s imagination, so don’t concern yourself about how smooth you are. Your child will think you are terrific and treasure the time you spend together.

And it doesn’t hurt that you are nurturing your own creativity, at the same time.