By Lorne Holden
When we think of children’s health, it is natural to think of good nutrition, plenty of fresh air, exercise and the power of stable loving connections. But there is an aspect to a healthy child which is often not addressed – the healthy imagination.
In a world where our kids are more hooked up to technology every day and where images and ideas pour at them from all corners of their lives, what is happening to their world within? What is happening to their own “inner search engines” that can solve problems, invent new solutions, sit with great curiosities?
Now is the time to stand by this part of your child’s well being. A healthy imagination is crucial for a child to be able to think their way out of a pickle, invent an answer to a conundrum or whisk away a stress.
Consider adopting these simple methods to help keep your child’s imagination alive:
1. Celebrate curiosity and questions. Let your kids know that to simply sit with a question without the pressure to answer it, is a great way to get the imagination up and running. Ask questions out loud in the spirit of musing – such things as “I wonder if there was ever a cow that had stripes like a zebra. Can you imagine what that would look like?”
2. Invite your child to use their imagination to help themselves in times of sorrow or discomfort. For example, if they have a headache at a time when lying down is not an option, ask them if there’s something they can imagine that would help them? Perhaps thinking of a baby polar bear softly using her paw on the child’s head? A fairy putting a cold cloth on the place that hurts?
3. Use your own imagination frequently so that your child can model the practice for your child. Say out loud things that arrive in your mind. “I wonder if there were ever clouds that were another color than white…” etc.
4. Play word games. Ask you child to make a new word from a word they already know. Some examples might be: confused can become confuzle-ating. People can become Popelini’s. Roots can become cachoots.
5. Invite them to build, draw and paint things that come right from their minds, not from the world around them. Or have them make an art project leaping off something they know and somehow making it new.
Keep the process light and fun. Imaginations that are stirred tend to invite more, great stirrings and before you know it, your child may surprise you with a wild, original thought of their own. Encourage and celebrate these wonderful moments. Today’s children are the creators and problem solvers of tomorrow. Let’s help keep their minds fresh and alive.
– Lorne Holden is an award winning artist and author of the bestselling book “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done,” which is available at makeithappenintenminutesaday.com and by request at any local bookstore.