In our new Spring 2021 issue, our resident parenting expert Anna Cole wrote about the inherent imaginative capacity that children possess … and how we can meet them in the realm of dreams. Read on to enjoy a sneak peek!
The Realm of Imagination
Meet your children there
by Anna Cole
Relationship therapist Esther Perel says our imaginations have played a more central part than ever in our lives, as the lockdowns continue.
‘Over the last year, our imaginations have gone into overdrive—both good and bad. Unable to see our friends, we’ve had to get extremely creative. But that creativity has also extended to the scary things, too. How much time have we spent hypothesising how bad it will get? We’ve fantasised a roller coaster of apocalyptic outcomes. .… The economy is forever in smithers …The kids will never return to school. We’re going to lose grandma. We’re going to lose everything. For so many, some of our deepest fears have come true. And so we wonder, what if they all do?’
As parents, we are living with experts in imagination. Play and imagination are a child’s first language. In one study described by the clinical psychologist Laurence Cohen in his excellent book ‘Playful Parenting’, a Russian nursery measured how long a classroom full of young children could stand still in a line. When told to stand as still as they could, for as long as they could, the group managed barely 5 seconds before a wiggle, a wriggle, an itch and a giggle. When told to imagine they were soldiers standing straight on parade, the time they could stay still doubled, and in some cases trebled. Imagination is a powerful way to meet your child where they are at and join them there. If you can enter your child’s world and meet them in the realm of imagination, you will go a lot further together than staying in a blander lockdown adult world.
This year, let’s plan, as parents, to use our own imagination for good, inspired by the children in our lives. Esther describes a video sent by her niece, of her young children in lockdown, hopping from pillow to pillow, pretending the pillows are rocks in a river. In another video, they pile those same pillows up to make their “cabin in the woods.” Children are naturals. They know the trick: freedom in confinement comes from our imaginations.
We’re not out of the woods yet, but fantasy can take us anywhere. So what would you like to imagine? Recently in my local park, I watched a little toddler bent over, exploring the cracks and crevices in the paving stones: lost in the detail, delighted by it, entranced by worlds in the pavement, while his patient parent waited nearby to move on.
To read the full article, check your local stockist for the Spring 2020/21 issue, subscribe here to receive a physical copy direct to your door, or sign up here to receive our NEW digital subscription offering.
Anna Cole is a certified Hand in Hand Parenting Instructor and the Regional Lead for the UK. Anna is offering, with colleague Liesl Orr, an online class for parents of teens during lockdown and out the other side. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.