The Importance Of Play And Imagination


The Importance Of Play And Imagination

In this blog, we will be talking about how the Imagination works and the importance of encouraging your child to use their imagination, and the benefits that this can bring to them.

Using your imagination can boost your happiness in life. You can use the power of your mind to transform your life and learn how your thoughts can create your reality.

What Is Imagination And How Does It Work?

A definition of imagination is “the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.”

In more general terms, your imagination is your ability to remember, interpret, dream, create, improvise and entertain oneself anywhere and anytime!

Why Is Imaginative Play So Important For Child Development?

Being a child can be scary. There are so many emotions to understand and manage and this can be overwhelming for them, as they do not initially have the inner resources they need at their disposal, and pretend play can be a great tool for them. 

There are so many benefits of imaginative play for child development. Using their imagination through imaginative play, for example, can help them master both their positive and negative feelings, improving their social skills and even their language skills. By using creative visualisation in imaginative play/pretend play, they can picture their problems and change their internal representation or perspective of the scenario in their minds. This, in turn, can help them deal with, and change their feelings towards, whatever it is bothering them.

Nia Watson
Nia Watson

For example, Nia, my friend Marsha Watson’s daughter had such a dilemma! 

Recently, Marsha put this up on her Facebook “To be a child growing up in 2018 is beautiful to watch. Knowing that Unicorns and Fairies and Magic is real ? as real as you believe it to be.”  But her daughter Nia told her that some of her friends say they don’t exist! Nia is contemplating whether what she believes is acceptable – What children like Nia are contemplating is – Is SHE acceptable?  

Marsha being Marsha, told her daughter “Nia there will always be people that don’t believe, some don’t even believe in themselves! We don’t need that kind of negativity around us babe if they don’t believe that’s their business” ?  This gave Nia the confidence to believe in herself and it also gave her the permission to use her imagination as she chooses.

TOP TIP: Ask your children to role play with you and act out their problems or worries. If a child is afraid of a monster, for example, acting out a story where s/he hunts down the monster and scares it away can help them transform that fear or worry. 

Imagination And Problem Solving skills

Studies have shown that children with more active imaginations are able to deal with emotions and handle problems more effectively. Children who have high levels of fantasy and imagination in their play also have a greater ability to accommodate stressful situations such as forgetting their lunch or being picked on by a bully. By encouraging children to use their imagination, you are also supporting them in developing useful coping mechanisms throughout their childhood, and in later life. So introducing imaginative play during their day can lead to much better social and emotional development as imaginative play fosters learning how to emotionally regulate, in different scenarios.

You And Your Imagination

As we grow older our imagination tends to diminish and we can easily forget what it is like to be a child – dramatising things around them in everyday life, talking to an imaginary friend and playing make-believe. It is important that we remember to value and nurture this imagination to prevent us from alienating our children and making them self-conscious.

So How Can You Encourage Your Child’s Imagination?

Some simple guidelines to follow are:

  • Ensure you are giving your child the time and space for imaginative play
  • Don’t feel threatened by your own disconnection from your imagination
  • Look closely at your child’s schedule – is this too strict and full of enrichment activities such as after-school clubs, lessons, hobbies, tv and tablets? Is there room for imagination in these activities?
  • Read stories to your child and spend unstructured time seeing where your imaginations can take you.
  • You don't need to have a high quality play environment, sometimes all you need is a cardboard box and 30 minutes! Engage in fantasy play, or play space, whatever it is, make sure its just fun for the child!
  • Share in your child’s imaginary play if they want you to be, let them take the lead! – Remember, no one is watching – indulge their imaginations!
  • Brainstorm with them some creative imaginative play ideas

Imagination is, of course, something we should all savour. Imaginative play is such a healthy contributor to A child's development can feel the benefits of a healthy imagination, creating happier, healthier and more alert children more likely to grow into well-adjusted, secure adults. So encourage imaginative play wherever you can.

It can be hard however to not stifle your child’s imagination through increasing pressures on them at school to perform and achieve. Sometimes, without meaning to, this can take priority in our achievement-orientated world. It is important to remember though, that imagination can play a  huge part in the success of our children and their abilities to deal with the twists and turns life will throw at them.

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