Your child’s brain is limitless. It just needs a little encouraging nudge in the right direction from you to set it on a path of positive imagination. Imagination allows the forces of creativity to develop in your toddler which ultimately sets them on the path to being creative, well-adjusted and secured adults later on in life.
Now this creativity and imagination may not always need to mean that your child will have to grow up to be a writer, or a painter or a sculptor everyday adults with a creative bent of mind also benefit from having a healthy imagination which allows them to tackle difficult situations in new ways or see novel solutions that others might have missed.
The bitter truth however is that as parents we often tend to ignore developing creativity and imagination in our children that isn’t tied to productivity of some kind. Schools too tend to not know how to effectively tackle this sensitive and not-so-tangible topic.
So as a parent how do we trigger positive imagination in our little ones? Let’s explore 4 basic ways to stimulate imagination in your toddler.
4 basic ways to stimulate imagination in your toddler
- Tell Stories: Instead of letting your toddler sit for hours in front of the television or using the television as a distraction during meal times tell them stories. There need not even be beautifully illustrated books or props – just one on one interaction between you and your child and the story. Stories act as a great trigger for imaginative development in your little one as well as creates memories and bonding between your child and you that can serve later in life as building blocks of empathetic behaviour and kindness.
- Arts and Craft Projects: Spend creative time with your toddler and explore the world of DIY arts and crafts so readily available in the stores today. Let them decide what they want to paint, draw, sculpt, build or mold. Give them free rein with their imagination and do not impose your ideas on them. Let your child be comfortable enough to use their imagination positively and come to you with their stories and explanations behind what they have created. Listen to what they are saying – this often holds the key to the direction that their mental development is taking.
- Open Ended Materials to Play With: Giving your toddler generic open-ended materials to play with like blocks or sand, which have endless possibilities, inspires positive imagination and your child isn’t bounded by the predefined roles or uses of his or her toys. The stories can be whatever they imagine and not conforming to preset ideas of the uses any particular toy might have. Similarly getting your child a big box to play in instead of a structured playhouse lets him or her use their imagination to turn it into whatever he or she wants to make it for that day. Building them a play corner of their own, preferably away from the television and its consumerism driven images, also allows your child to develop a sense of inner space and helps them to create their own pictures and visions.
- Understanding and Appreciating Nature: Taking your toddler out on nature walks and combining them with fun activities like Nature Stories, Nature Art is a great way to teach your toddler the wonders of imaginative thinking. Spotting a rainbow, staring up at the stars and constellations in the night sky, experiencing sunrises and sunsets and tidal waves helps open up new vistas of imagination for your child. Planning trips to nature reserves, botanical gardens, places with great natural beauty is one way of introducing your toddler to new experiences and options to explore new areas. Books on planets, stars and visits to the planetarium is yet another way to open up positive imagination avenues for your toddler. Encourage him or her to collect and make art projects out of seashells, stones and pebbles of his or her choice.
In the end it is most important not to curb your little one’s curiosity. Curiosity leads to questions about what is not known which in turn leads to exploration of the object of the question not only by your child but also you. As a parent it is crucial for you to take time out and think about your toddler’s curiosity. On your part ask him or her open-ended questions about your activities together which will trigger them to answer in creative ways. The only impediment to freeing your toddler’s imagination is your own imagination. As a parent take the time out to give effort and explore with your child – see the world anew through his or her curious eyes and become a child yourself once again.