As a parent, you want to raise a happy, successful child who does well in life. However, while you may have a clear intention, you may be going about it in a limited way. The default style for most parents is to focus on learning what to do and what not to do. It’s about teaching your child how the world works and how to fit in.
While, of course, this is a necessary aspect of parenting, it’s not the optimum way to raise a thriving child. After behavior modification, the next most popular parenting strategy is to focus on education. Again, this is a good and necessary thing to do, but it’s also not the optimum way to achieve your goal.
The best way to raise a child is to capitalize on something they don’t appear to need at all: stimulating their imagination. In fact, children’s curiosity and imagination and playfulness appear to overflow in such abundance that parents often try to tone it down.
Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Unfortunately, this wisdom appears to be lost on the school system, which attempts to control over-active minds. By the time children grow up, they often view life as a huge struggle because they sometimes lack the creativity and imagination to solve their problems. In fact, creativity levels have been plummeting for the past 20 years.
- Spark their imagination about what’s possible with an unusual birthday present.
Birthdays are always special days for children. It’s a day of celebration, presents, parties, and family outings. One way to surprise and delight your child is to look into custom photo blankets. Essentially, this is a gigantic photographic image printed onto a blanket. Ask your child to pick out their favorite images (without telling them why) and then surprise them with a photo blanket on their birthday.
- Encourage arts and crafts.
Drawing and painting teach your child to develop their observation of form and color. They learn to focus on details. Crafts teach your child to improve eye-hand coordination, strengthen their motor skills, and manifest ideas in their heads into tangible objects. Arts and crafts stimulate the right brain, which is responsible for pattern recognition.
- Read to your child.
Reading to your child helps them develop invaluable literacy skills; it also helps them to follow a sequence of ideas in their mind’s eye. Use colorful, interactive books for smaller children and engaging stories for slightly older children. Create a dialogue about the story, even encouraging unique plot twists and alternative endings. Consistent reading to a child help’s develop their imagination, creativity, and ability to understand how the world works. The famous physicist, Richard Feynman attributes much of his success in solving the riddles of quantum theory to his father reading to him as a child.
- Play games with your child.
While it’s fine to let your child play on their own, enjoying their fantasies, they also appreciate a little company now and then. Playing with your child builds a strong parent-child bond, so take the time to join them in their fun.
- Limit screen time.
It’s unrealistic to expect your child not to be fascinated with computers, devices, and gadgets and to want to play popular games on them. While these games do help them develop their minds — for instance, it takes a lot of quick thinking to do well in a video game — they also lead to poor attention span and an addiction for instant gratification. So give your child a wider repertoire of things to stimulate their minds, ranging from visiting museums to playing intellectually stimulating board games.
The Importance of Imagination
In an article on creativity and imagination, Kyle Pearce asks a rather disturbing question and comes to a dismal conclusion: “Are we educating our children out of the innate abilities that they desperately need to navigate an uncertain future where routine jobs are replaced by robots and software? It looks like we are, in fact, research shows that creativity levels have been continuously dropping for the last two decades.”
Reading to a child or buying them a Lego kit may not seem like a big deal, but it is actually a subtle way to nudge their destiny in the right direction.