When did you stop imagining? I bet it’s not something you have thought about very often or maybe not at all. As I was chatting with our amazingly awesome babysitter the other night, we were talking about this very thing. Somewhere between middle school and college, our imaginations turned to reality. “I don’t have time for kid games anymore. . . .” But I think we should make time for kid games.
Adults often lose sight of the importance of imagination. We get stuck in the day to day blahs of life and no longer take the time to dream and imagine things that may never happen. This type of play comes naturally to children. They do it with abandon, without embarrassment, sans reality.
I vividly remember my childhood imagination. Most often it manifested itself through my Barbie dolls or Cabbage Patch Kids. I created voices for each figure. . .they all had names. . .and they were friends with my friends’ Barbie dolls. I imagined my future life as an adult. I imagined what life was like at the North Pole. I imagined the Tooth Fairy was chronically exhausted. I imagined Michael Jackson knew how much I love him as evidenced by the kisses I left on the poster hanging in my room.
Since I have been around kids since I was a kid, it’s very natural for me to get down on their level to play. Sometimes I will initiate imagination by grabbing a Little People toy and walking her up the stairs on the pink Fisher Price bus. But I know what you may be thinking, “this does NOT come naturally to me! I dread the times when my child asks me to play. I don’t know how anymore.” You are not alone. And you are not hopeless! With time, it will become natural again.
How do you see eye to eye with a child?
1-Physically: You guessed it. Physically get down on the floor with your child or students or patients. Whatever it takes to be at their eye level. See what they see.
2-Understand them: Play is important to children, in fact it may be the most important “task” that they do all day. Consider play as a necessary part of the day and treat it as such. Respect their work. They are serious about play!
3-Reckless Abandonment: I have heard this term many times as a Christian, but it applies here just as well. My condensed definition of this term is: just do it! Get involved in play without worrying about your performance. You child/student/patient won’t care if you look funny, talk funny or don’t know what to do. They just want you to play along.
4-Take their lead, unguided play: If you are reading this thinking, “I can get down on the floor, but after that. . . .nothin!” Let the child lead you. They are incredibly creative and will help you out. Children need to be allowed to initiate play without being guided by an adult. They will love that you are in their world and allowing them to be in charge of it.
5-Go back in time: Try to remember what you did as a child. How did you use your imagination? Use these memories to give you ideas on how to tap into your inner child 🙂
Learning how to imagine again is worth the effort. You will be seeing eye to eye in no time.