People like to say that kids these days lack the imagination and playfulness they once had. At first glance, this may sound like stubbornly sticking to the old ways and making the same fall assumptions all the generations of parents before kept making. Our childhoods always seem brighter and sunnier.
But, we need to take into account that the kids of today are born in an entirely digital world that feeds them with instant gratification, endless streams of short-burst content, and the toys and games people have already spent countless hours and supplies of creativity creative.
In short, they are not inclined to let their imagination run loose, and there are very few things left to imagine to begin with. Well, the good news is that the situation can be changed with nothing more than a couple of simple tricks and hacks.
So, let’s see what you can do to make your children look at the world with a healthy dose of imagination and curiosity.
Limit the children’s screen time
Yeah, there’s no way around it – phones, apps, short online cartoons, and other forms of fun are shortening your kids’ attention spans and present too easy of a distraction to inspire genuine imagination. So, while it is impossible to prevent them from using modern devices altogether be sure to use this sort of entertainment in short bursts and limited time slots. And never, ever go the path of less resistance and use phones as digital pacifiers. Ideally, screen time should be shared time. Watching cartoons and playing games while talking about presented content may prove to be very useful.
Give kids a space they can call their own
Ideally, this should be a separate room or at least some nook they will be able to explore and arrange according to their personal tastes. Having the freedom to explore their playroom, build it up, and take part in its creation allows kids to unleash their imaginations. And when they are allowed to express such freedom, they can turn sofas into fortresses, wallpapers into imaginative vistas, and chairs into rocket ships. But, as we said earlier, this will require a great level of freedom and no scolding on your behalf. So, childproof some corner of your home and respect the fact it’s your children’s turf.
Nudge them toward creative distractions
By that, we primarily think about books, storytelling, fables, music, and other forms of fun that are capable of sparking tremendous levels of imagination and creativity. Of course, you shouldn’t try to impose these things on your kids, but as soon as you discover more about their tendencies you can start nudging them into directions they prefer. Also, try to be fun and versatile. Once you finish some story, you can try drawing the characters together, writing a follow-up, or simply talking about its morals. The more open-ended you leave any of these distractions, the more creativity you’ll inspire.
Use appropriate educational toys
Dolls, knights, dragons, plushy animals, and other traditional toys are all great and they can serve as building blocks for some truly wonderful narrative storytelling. But, if you truly want to motivate your young ones to develop their curiosity, you will need to present them with something that will engage their little brains a bit more. Fortunately, the options you have at your disposal are truly endless and they are made even for the children of the youngest age. So, check the items like educational Montessori toys for 2 year old kids and similar toys designed to challenge their brain functions. The effort you invest into developing their intelligence will pay off wonderfully when the time comes to develop imagination.
Ask your kids open-ended questions and provide detailed answers
This is a very common pitfall, so pay extra attention to the way you communicate with your kids. The more creative you are and the more open-ended inquiries you make, your children will need to think more creatively to provide answers. Also, when the time comes to provide an answer don’t avoid the topic no matter how complicated the topic might be. “Why the rain falls?” Do your homework and try to explain to young ones in a simple and fun manner. Things like space, history, physics, biology, and other sciences may intimidate adults but they fire up children’s imagination like a huge volcano.
Spend as much time outside as possible
This will provide countless benefits. First and foremost, engaging in outdoor activities improves kids’ health and mental well-being. By spending more time in nature they also develop a very deep appreciation for it and grow to love activities beneficial for their development. But, outdoor areas, especially natural surroundings also present more challenging environments where children get an opportunity to exercise, engage in problem-solving, socialize, take small risks, and ponder things they can’t truly think of in their playrooms. Each new experience gives small children a tremendous brain boost.
Don’t neglect the value of boredom
Boredom is extremely valuable. This is the time when your kids feel the greatest urge to do creative things and engage with the world around them. Quiet moments also present an excellent time for introspection and sorting out emotions and priorities. The inner lives of our kids are just as rich as ours and they need quiet moments for themselves just as bad as we do. On the other hand, structuring your children’s activities too heavily and too densely will turn them into chores and make them lose flavor. So, present options for entertainment but let your kids consume them at their own pace.
Provide a good role model
In other words, if you expect your kids to grow into curious, creative, and inquiring persons, you need to demonstrate the same qualities yourself. What effect you will achieve by asking your children to draw or read books while you are scrolling social media or watching reality shows? What you do instead is to use every day to learn something new, find some creative hobby, and keep pushing yourself toward new experiences and worldviews. If your young ones feel your interest and passion for all things new are genuine, they will gravitate towards similar behavior patterns very soon.
Well, we hope these couple of tips will help you separate your kids from phone screens and turn them into small explorers with big dreams. As we can see, neither of these hacks requires you to spend tons of money. Bet they do ask you to stop taking the easy way out and spend more quality time with your children. And, this will be time well spent. Putting aside your kids’ development, fond memories are something that is truly priceless.
Lana is a stay-at-home mom and a writer, who will never stop trying to achieve a work-life balance in her life 🙂 She enjoys playing in the kitchen and cooking for her friends and family, spending time in nature and learning about other cultures by traveling.