Perhaps I should begin by addressing the fact that all children are imaginative to some degree. Imagination, as well as pretend and creative play are a vital part of a child’s growth and development. We all remember pretending to be pirates or princesses when we were kids. We remember imagining the floor was lava and jumping from pillow to couch. These games and creative play allowed us to express ourselves, problem solve, and think outside of the box. And now we are parents, watching our own offspring discover the endless possibilities of their imaginations.
So, what is it like to be the parent of an extremely imaginative child? A kid that spends every waking moment fantasizing, storytelling and creating scenarios, plots and characters? Well, take my little Ladybug for example. From the time she began talking she was very inquisitive and eager to learn. At around 2 years old, she was curious about everything and began enjoying books more and more. She also began to gain more interest in TV programs (mostly educational such as Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger and Super Why) and enjoyed the characters and songs. Her imagination began to blossom more and more to the point that mom and dad were now involved in Ladybug’s world of pretend. It is cute, clever and funny at times, but sometimes difficult to navigate in reality.
Pros to a big imagination:
- Creativity can be found everywhere. If we don’t have a toy she wants or needs while playing, we can easily substitute with any other object and she can pretend away.
- Keeps the kids busy. I am a work from home mom with just one 4 year old. She always wants my attention and for me to play with her. Often, I set up a scenario and let her get crafty and engage in pretend play while I slowly move onto work that I need done.
- Learning to problem solve. When creating a prop or scene, Ladybug will often ask for help opening, closing, setting up or stacking something. I typically give verbal tips and instruct her to give it a try herself first and only step in if she becomes frustrated. These moments are perfect practice for skill building as well as problem solving.
- Pure joy and magic. There is something so amazing about watching a child play. The pureness, the innocence, the wonder. Perhaps it prompts fond memories of our very own childhood. Seeing your child play with or without others in a world of make-believe is a cherished moment for us parents. Wouldn’t you agree?
Cons to a big imagination:
- It can be hard to tell where pretend ends and reality begins. I hear screams from her room and when I race over in a panic I find that it was just her pretending her doll needed to be rescued from the mountain (dresser top).
- Breaking her out of her world. I ask a question more than once with no response. She is not purposely ignoring me, but so wrapped up in her imagination that she literally has me and anyone else for that matter tuned out. This gets to be problematic when I am trying to keep her safe. Telling her to watch out for someone or something and having her completely oblivious to her surroundings is dangerous and scary.
- I can’t just be ME. Every morning when we wake the first thing she asks me is “who are you going to be today?”. Yes folks, my child requests that I am either Darth Vadar or a cat on a daily basis, sun up to sun down. I will accept this daunting task nearly 95% of the time as a means to keep Ladybug happy and it is an all day affair. I can’t even tell you how exhausting and confusing it is to be Darth Vadar and mom at the same time. Perhaps this is how Clark Kent felt.
- Public outings. The meowing at the grocery store or wanting to dress up as a superhero/princess/fairy and then wear said attire in public…yeah, it’s sometimes embarrassing. Listen, I’m all for kids being kids and not caring what people think, but I also enjoy shopping without my kid freaking people out as she pretends to hiss or claw at them. But how do ask a child to stop pretending? I just try and tone her down a notch.
Okay, so the “cons” aren’t necessarily that bad or anything, just more like small hassles. In the end, am I happy to have such and imaginative child? Totally! She gets her abundant creativity from her mommy after all, and I wouldn’t change her for the world.
DISCLAIMER: This post is merely an observation from my own personal experience with my daughter. I in no way, shape or form think there is such thing as a child being too imaginative.