A child’s imagination is an extraordinary thing. It can create worlds we cannot visit, friends we cannot see and ideas we can barely fathom. There is no measurement to the extent a child can grow this magical ability, and as a parent we need to embrace this limitless wonder. Some of your child’s best creations will be the product of their imagination, whether it is as bewildering as banana chicken soup, or as stunning as a hand painted mural. With such a powerful tool for a child, it is important for parents to encourage the growth and not dilute it.

In the past year, studies have shown that creativity has decreased among American children. Since 1990 children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas resulting in less humor, imagination and ability to elaborate on ideas. The good part about these conclusions is it is easy to nurture an imagination. Some quick fixes parents can take to ensure that their children are using and expanding their imagination are:

  • Make time to pretend. Pretend play lets kids try out new roles for themselves (like superheroes, princesses, wild animals, or even parents) and allows for creative problem solving. But it also helps them deal with another hurdle of the preschool years: intense emotions.
  • Turn off the video games and TV. These are two mediums that create fantasy worlds for them, and typically do not stimulate kids to do so themselves. Instead, have them create their own entertainment, whether it’s directing their own play or illustrating their own storybook. Also with the growth of technology, it is always nice to bring out old toys like blocks and dolls and see what they do when they are in charge of their own entertainment.
  • Slow down. Nowadays, kids have a packed schedule, allowing no time to actually “play”. Giving them time to just have fun will give them the opportunity to use their imagination to play house, super heroes or even princesses.

Just like most stages in a child’s life, the imagination stage will fade and parents will be left with a pile of costumes and a memory of laughter. This bittersweet moment is known as “the age of reason”, meaning the child is now at a higher-level of thinking and has realized that the way they thought the world worked is now not necessarily how it actually does work.

The age of reason is when parents will see their kids start to decipher what is right from wrong, the battle of finding their conscious and the realization that their fantasy worlds and friends were never there to begin with. Luckily for parents, the fun does not end with the start of the age of reason. Parents will start to see the product of their child’s imagination translate into their future through:

  • Art
  • Music
  • Creative writing
  • Help with critical thinking

So when the capes come off and the wands stop working, parents should not discourage the creativity they have been enveloped with the past few years. Instead, they now know their child’s capability and should encourage them to dabble in art, music, creative writing and critical thinking situations to find their true passion.