Imagine! That word alone has the ability to open people’s minds to endless possibilities. It allows us to experience alternate realities unique to our own perceptions and perspectives on the world. Most of the time when we think of imagination, we think good things. Imagination is Unicorns, flying dragons, taking a trip around the world in a rocket ship, teddy bears that can talk, cell phones (before they existed), and a man on the moon.
And of course, there are well established reports and research indicating that a robust imagination is not only a healthy part of childhood, it is directly correlated to a healthy childhood. Furthermore, a healthy imagination in childhood has been linked to positive outcomes and experiences in adulthood. In fact, adults who are able to hold on to their sense of imagination are reportedly happier for various reasons.
As a child therapist, much of my work is centered upon tapping into a child’s imagination as a conduit to reconciling social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Because to them, imagination is easy. It allows us the ability to explore how they feel in a way that is removed yet still connected to their sense of self. This translates to a feeling of comfort which allows for positive change to occur more readily.
What is less talked about though is how Imagination can work against a child. Especially a young one who is using their imagination to fill in the gaps as they are making sense of the world. Let me explain.