The Importance of Cultivating a Child’s Imagination



No sooner had I turned my back from her, I found out that my 22-month-old daughter had gotten the brilliant idea to utilize a marker she’d found to use her body as a canvas, and draw the picture which was most brilliant in her head at the time – fireworks.

Of course, I had to stifle the initial horror.  But the more I saw what she was doing, the more I thought it was awesome – she had never before really done much more with coloring than scribble and say it was a “rainbow”.  But now she’s got a new one in her painting repertoire, and began telling me about how there’s “fireworks in the sky on Mackenzie!!” and such.  I thought it was awesome.

Validated, her imagination has only been growing & growing, which from my perspective, has just been making her more able to think about the future.   A quote from one of L. Ron Hubbard’s amazing lectures on children comes to mind:

“Imagination is a fine predictor mechanism which I think is its basic purpose. If you want to upset a person about the future, take from him his ability to use his imagination.

“In children that you treat you’re going to find the problem of imagination very acute, in many of these cases. The child has come into the world, has looked around at a bunch of sour-faced adults for a while, has a few data (not too many) on this subject or that, and has tried zestfully to recompose this data into something which looks to him like a logical picture.

“Well, of course a dinosaur romping down Hollywood Boulevard is a logical picture to a child. Few data. So the adult comes along and he says–oh, scornful, ‘That’s all in your imagination. You shouldn’t use your imagination.’ And the child may be trying to tell somebody a funny story.

“You really get a beautiful cross-index of the adult world. It is dumb! It is stupid! I’ve never failed to remark on this in treating a child. The child was quite bright. And in relationship–that is, when he first comes in, the usual child, first comes into the world he’s quite bright, he has an acute sense of what is real and what isn’t real.

“But he’ll try to tell adults jokes. And he has a very playful look toward life. And the adult says, ‘Oh no, that isn’t so.’ Honest, I imagine that many a child feels like a comedian who is talking to a house that is absolutely flat.”

from lecture
Processing Children in Research & Discovery Volume 3
15 July 1950

That first paragraph is one that sticks with me.  If a person can’t imagine, they can’t pose potential problems and see solutions.  They can’t make up how something could be, and figure out if they want it that way or not.

As far as I’m concerned, imagination is a deadly-important skill in the game of life, not something frivolous that children do that they’ll hopefully eventually grow out of.

4 thoughts on “The Importance of Cultivating a Child’s Imagination

  1. Great quote! Good for you for not blowing your top and seeing the beauty in this.

    1. Indeed. We’ll see how I react the first time I find permanent marker “fireworks” all over the walls. I’m trying to get mentally prepared. 🙂

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