Foster A Healthy Imagination And Healthy Habits
When my son was young, we chased lions. A lot of lions. They roamed around our backyard on a regular basis. They were everywhere. We would chase them around the yard trying to catch them. And, you would always know when a new lion would be spotted because my son would crouch down and whisper, “do you see the lion?”.
Imagination — what a wonderful thing. And kids are filled with imaginative thoughts, ideas, and fun! It’s great for them, and it’s important as parents and caregivers to cultivate imagination in our children. You see, a strong imagination is about more than creativity. A developed imagination helps foster problem solving skills and builds up social emotional development. In other words, a good imagination is great for children and for the adults that they will eventually become. Because of this, we’ve pulled together several ways that you can help foster the imagination in your child and help them keep it throughout their childhood.
Ways To Cultivate Imagination In Children
Encourage them to play, without toys.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but some toys can be limiting because the toy has a purpose. A race car is a car. But, a pot, pan or a box do not have a pre-determined way to play with them. And, when children play with things that aren’t toys, they are forced to re-imagine what they are and what they could be. Pots could be drums. A box could be a castle, or who knows!
Become characters that they’ve come up with.
If your child creates a character in their mind, try acting out that character with them. By acting out what they’ve thought of, you are feeding their imagination and opening a world where they can come up with more ideas.
Let them be bored.
Yes, the phrase “I’m bored” can be frustrating, but resist the urge to give them ideas. Let your kids work through their boredom. This creates an opportunity for them to exercise their imagination and come up with something new to do.
Teach them it’s okay to challenge assumptions and conventional wisdom.
Help kids understand that they do not need to just accept things as is. Instead, let them know it is okay to challenge the status quo (respectfully, of course) and come up with new possibilities. Challenging the everyday will help them come up with new ideas and look at things from a different perspective.
Teach kids that mistakes are okay.
Everyone makes mistakes, and that is okay. Mistakes are a way to discover something new or learn something new. Heck, mistakes have led to some awesome things. Penicillin, the slinky, chocolate chip cookies, and the pacemaker were all the result of a mistake!
Spend time outdoors together.
Nature is constantly changing every day. Because of this, it provides a lot of opportunities to discover new things, and practice creative problem-solving. For example, what would happen if we put a pile of nuts on a bench. Would squirrels eat them? What if we put them somewhere else? Would the same thing happen? Spending time in nature helps us explore, learn, and think differently.
Encourage singing, playing music or art activities.
These are all forms of creative expression that nurture creativity and imagination. And, when we take out the rules and the directions, children can express their ideas, make decisions on how to approach a song or piece of art, and even work through their emotions about the song or artwork.
Allow kids to have downtime and limit screen time.
When children can relax, it gives them time to use their imagination. This includes taking a step back from electronics. Create the opportunity for kids to “unplug” and let their minds wander.
Try something new yourself.
Children are constantly watching their parents. If you try something new or get creative, they will see the value in doing so as well. Turn the radio up, sing a song loudly, paint a picture, be silly — all of these are great ways to show kids that imagination is important. And a healthy imagination is good for adults too!
A strong imagination can also play a role in the overall health and well-being of children and adults. Overall health is yet another life skill that kids need to learn about, and it’s something we can help cultivate throughout their childhood.
Ways To Teach Overall Health To Our Children
Overall health, and healthy habits, are extremely important to teach our children. These habits can set our children up for a strong future and can get them through the tough times that all adults face at some point. Here are a few ways to help teach kids healthy habits.
Approach healthy habits as a family.
This is a big one. It’s hard to teach kids how to be healthy when their parents don’t “practice what they preach”. Instead, apply the same lessons you are teaching your children to yourself — it will benefit your kids and you!
Move every day.
Build moving into the day. It could be taking a walk, jumping rope, playing basketball, running around the yard, going on a hike, or any number of activities that gets the heart pumping for you and your kids. Make it fun or turn it into a game — exercise that seems like play is always more fun!
Drink plenty of water.
Skip the juices, sodas, and sports drinks, and opt for water instead.
Incorporate color into your meals.
Yep, fruits and vegetables are important for kids and adults. Include a variety of colors in your meals and encourage your child to eat them (and be sure you eat them as well). And try new foods when you go out to eat, or when you are with friends. If your kids see you trying new foods, or different fruits and vegetables, they will be more comfortable trying them as well.
Put a limit on screen time.
Too much screen time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, and as we learned above, it can limit creativity and imagination. So, put a limit on how much time your child, and you, spend on your devices.
Eat together and enjoy your food.
Eating together as a family promotes a family atmosphere and encourages people to eat their food more slowly, and to savor it. In other words, really taste your food! Eating together also provides a great opportunity to try something new, like brussels sprouts!
Talk to, and with, your kids.
Family mealtime is a great way to easily incorporate conversation into your relationship with your child. Ask about their day, how they enjoyed their meal, or about a school project that they are working on. And share details about your life as well. Talking with your children on a regular basis helps them know that they can come talk to you if something is bothering them. And talking about problems early on can help them work through how to solve the issues and promotes emotional wellness.
Encourage a regular sleep schedule.
We all know that sleep is important. One of the best ways to achieve a good night of sleep is to get your kids into a regular sleep routine. That means a consistent bedtime, without devices. And this goes for parents as well.
Practice gratitude together.
Make it a habit to share what you are grateful for with your children and encourage them to do the same thing. Practicing gratitude, on a regular basis, can help children see the good in their life, even when they are going through rough times.
Our life lessons series continues next month! Be sure to check out our blog for the next article. And, if you missed our previous articles, we’ve got you covered! They are all ready for you on our blog: A Lesson In Responsibility, By Way Of A Pile Of Socks, Don’t Be Afraid To Fail, Or Tell The Truth, Losing Gracefully And Being Kind Go Hand In Hand, and Being Compassionate Towards Others & Yourself.