Letting them think through play may help them in the long run
Talking to themselves playing with toys, running loose at family gatherings with cousins, screeching and chasing friends in the backyard…
The energy and creativity of a child is a 24/7 deal that requires endless attention, discipline, and love. As a parent, you work hard to help your children gain skills that will develop their personalities, such as imaginativeness and innovativeness-- but what if there was a much simpler solution to shaping children into strong individuals? Here are three easy ways to let your kids grow on their own and truly interpret the world around them for what it is: theirs.
Allow them to “talk to themselves” when playing with their toys, as well as letting them play alone more often
When I was younger, I would create full-scale movies with my Barbie dolls, spending hours in my room alone, acting out scenes and verbalizing the script as I made it up. Self-conversation is often seen as something to discuss at the next visit to the pediatrician. While concerns about personality deficiencies or lack of social skills are adequately rooted, usually kids are building up their storytelling skills. My mom never questioned me playing alone, and I didn’t turn out to be a socially isolated, “angsty” teen, but more a person who loves to tell stories and make people smile.
Let them make something out of nothing
It’s not abnormal for homes of toddlers to be strewn with construction paper and cardboard creations, which is beneficial. The ability for a child to take a cereal box and turn it into battle armor for a play sword-fight takes a multitude of critical-thinking skills that should be harnessed and cultivated instead of suppressed for the sake of a quiet kid. I remember being in love with the show Wizards of Waverly Place from ages 10-13, and making myself a “wand” out of a random wooden rod and duct tape I found in our basement. Not only is letting kids create with random “junk” good for their minds, but it saves in the budget department as well. Not to mention, it teaches good self-monitoring habits during the clean-up afterward!
Send them outside!
Of course, the talk about kids needing more vitamin D and getting off the video games is important, but children pick up better social skills outside even compared to playdates inside of the house. In the backyard, they’re able to run wild, use their “outside voices” and generally have more freedoms than they do inside of the house. This allows them to come up with new games, get in some exercise, and put their growing minds together with their friends’ to enjoy and learn in nature. I can recall at least three or four games my elementary-age friends and I came up with -- each with their own storyline, often involving us taking on different characters and using our imaginations -- and it didn’t just provide us with an opportunity to have some fun, but gave us friendships that still stand today and chances to think critically and creatively through play.
The reality is that kids develop their personalities best when they can learn from their own experiences. Skills like imagination, creativity, innovation, and individuality cannot be taught, but are obtained through learning through free play. So, next time your child wants to act out a scene with her dolls or run wild in the backyard with his friends, sit back and enjoy watching them grow into their own person.