There is one thing we should learn from children to feel happier. Her Majesty Imagination.
Recently, in a group of friends we had a discussion about our dreams. A beautiful, inspiring topic. Interestingly, it was quite a challenge for us to name what we dream about. And it was not a matter of being shy or introverted.
What happens to our wide open imagination when we grow up? Do we lose it?
What can we do in the early childhood years to grow the imagination muscle so that it stays with us through adulthood?
Imagination is an asset for growth
A curious child observes the environment, asks a zillion of „why“, and fills in the knowledge gaps with her bold and sincere imagination. Children create dreams, phantasies, and sensations about the things that they can’t yet explain about the world.
No one shames or laughs at their phantasies. On the contrary, we adore the breadth and depth of the boundless imagination of our children.
When we see a sheet of white paper on a table, we immediately have a clear idea that it is for taking notes or making drawings. A child would probably have a much wider range of associations – paper can be folded into an airplane, rolled into binoculars, torn into snowflakes.
As child grows, however, the accumulated knowledge and experience leave less space for imagination. We can’t forget what we’ve learned. Being an expert often comes at a cost of being open to what we don‘t know. We become afraid to look naive or dumb, to get hurt or be pushed out of our comfort zone.
The child will often notice things that we do not see anymore because „it has always been like this“. And another simple curious„why“ feels irritating as we are forced to open our mind again.
300 questions per day
In fact, studies have shown that young children ask an average of more than 300 questions per day. It is rather challenging to remain patient through this overwhelming experience!
It is not surprising if you secretly (or openly) wish to stop this habit; however, we should encourage our children to ask more questions, not less.
Dr. Michele Borba, a psychologist and author of many instructional books for parents, says that asking children questions can help help them maintain an open mind and prevent them from developing a mental fixation. It is very important that our children develop the imagination and their desire to know more, and she explains that we can help them do so not only by answering their many questions but also by asking questions ourselves.
Conversations for keeping dreams alive
Here is a list of questions to start and help your children talk in the way that develops their imagination, creativity, and curiosity. Answer the questions along with your child and regain your own imagination power.
- What makes you happy?
- What do you look forward to when you wake up in the morning?
- If your toys could talk, what would they say?
- If you could grow anything you wanted in the yard, what would you grow?
- What makes you feel brave?
- If you were writing a book, what would it be about?
- What sounds do you like?
- Where would you choose to travel, and how would you get there?
- Imagine that you are a chef: tell me about your restaurant, for example, what food do you serve?
- If you had a secret cave in the forest, what would be inside of it?
- If you could ask any animal you want anything in the world, what would you ask?
- How do you think animals communicate?
- Describe your perfect day, what do you do that makes it so?
- Which animal would make the best driver and why?
- If you could choose new names for colors, what would they be?
- What is it that you enjoy giving people?
- Do you have any inventions you’ve come up with?
- Imagine you are a photographer, what pictures would you choose to photograph?
- If you can be a superhero, what would your superpowers be?
- What is your biggest dream?
Imagination flourishes when we open up our mind to new sensations and different thinking models and when we get out of our comfort zone of being an expert in things we’ve learnt. Imagination is one thing we should learn from children to get our boundless dreams back.