Monday, September 12, 2011

Mommy Mondays: Toddler Imaginations

Snakes, super turtles, bathing suits, tennis shoes, and dragons= the leading roles in my two and a half year olds imaginative story. As he shared his story with very vivid details I was impressed by his sequence of events, his fluctuation in how he told his story, and that it even had a beginning, middle, and end. It was so out there but at the same time it was so matter of fact. This story led me to thinking about how he processes every conversation, book, movie, even what he sees out the window as we drive. Is Mickey real? Can he decipher if something was a dream or actually happened? Will taking him to Disneyland confuse him even more? Does he really think toys come to life when he leaves the room?

According to psychologists, the likely reason that imagination and fact can blend together is that little kids have acute powers of perception — they ’re experts at seeing, hearing, feeling, thinking, and imagining — but they can’t reflect on those perceptions. In other words, they think a lot, but they don’t yet think about thinking. When adults wake up from a scary dream, the primitive brain feels the emotion, but our advanced reasoning can see it with a bird’s eye view and put it in context. Kids, on the other hand, operate more from the gut, with less contemplation or insight about what they’ve experienced.

So, it's ok if he's confused, with time he will work out the difference between fact and fiction. Right now, I am going to encourage his magical thinking and spark his imagination. A few ways I am going to encourage his imagination are: 1) to make a reading tent, 2) to tell me stories and ask questions like what happened next? where did the elephant go? for him to think even further, 3) to buy him toys that can be played with more than one way, ie. blocks, dough, or just kitchen utensils, and 4) to pull out the paints and chalk.

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