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How can I stimulate my child’s imagination, creativity, and motivation with toys?

As a parent it is obvious that you want the best for your children. It goes so far that you buy them the best rated and top reviewed toys on the market. With online shopping at our fingertips, it is easier to provide our kids with 5-star reviewed items vloggers gush over. So, if this fancy, super-duper, top-rated toy is so amazing, why did your child just toss it aside with the rest of his forgotten hoard after the first day he got it? According to Pediatric Psychologist, Dr. John Richer (he’s done some fascinating research… to read about his findings, visit http://oxford.academia.edu/JohnRicher), nearly 70% of intelligence can be explained by DNA (1). This means that your child gets 70% of their smarts from you BUT their environment can suppress or express these “smart” genetics. Parents often buy their children toys that can do a lot, but in order to stimulate their imagination, creativity, and motivation, we must get them toys that a child can do a lot with

Staying closely connected and in tune with your child will help you understand what positively stimulates their imagination and creativity. Some studies suggest that children who have been provided the space for creativity will become better problem solvers in their adult lives (2). Additionally, you will gain insight into how they learn or how to adapt their environment to support healthier cognitive and emotional development. Your child can become overstimulated and overwhelmed when they have a toy closet, chest or room with too many toy options. Children begin to become unimaginative and can shut down. Have you ever noticed that they have more than enough toys to play with but still seem uninterested, annoyed and even irritated? 

What can you do to help inspire your child’s resourcefulness and artistry?

  • Play with them. Choose age appropriate board or card games for your child.
    • MonopolyCandy Land, or Scrabble are fun board games that can also enhance bonding. 
    • Azul, Adventures in Storyland, and Stone Soup are less traditional but imaginative board games you and yours can enjoy together. 
    • Cooperative board games allow you and your kid to play as a team to overcome the game’s obstacles together, encouraging teamwork and camaraderie between you and your kid.  Castle Panic, Race to the Treasure, and Forbidden Island are just a few examples.
  • You can box away a portion of your child’s current toys and begin to switch them out after a period of time to reduce the over-stimulation. 
  • Try to avoid providing your child electronic toys. Instead, select toys that they need to imaginatively bring to life, providing a fun and healthy avenue to channel their creativity.  Some ideas are: drawing boards, clay sets, building blocks, or even the traditional doll house. 

Are you ready to build yourself a creative, imaginative, and motivated child? Start slow by setting up a game night every other week, borrow games from friends or family, and start discussions with your children about what their favorite toys are and why. This will not only create a great foundation for your child but also create a greater bond between you two. Enjoy your time together! I look forward to hearing about it. 

(1) Ormrod, Jeanne Ellis; Anderman, Eric M.; Anderman, Lynley H. Educational Psychology: Developing Learners (What’s New in Ed Psych / Tests & Measurements). Pearson Education. Kindle Edition.

(2) Caiman, C., & Lundegård, I. (2018). Young children’s imagination in science education and education for sustainability. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 13(3), 687-705.

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