How to Help Unlock the Imagination of Your Child

How to Help Unlock the Imagination of Your Child

Imagination is important to childhood development, and not just for their creative side. For that reason, any new parent should take every opportunity to unlock that incredible potential using as many different means and methods as possible.

As a working parent, though, you might find this to be hard, as you can’t spend as much quality time as you would like with your child, so you need to be creative and imaginative yourself to find ways to achieve this goal. It can involve some unconventional methods, and engaging help and resources from other people your child interact with daily.

Why Is Childhood Imagination So Important?

Children’s imagination is vitally important in helping them learn about the world. They use it to explore possibilities and develop all of those ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions you will be asked about seemingly random or nonsensical things. While, as a parent, you might not know the answer to these questions (even if one exists), you could spend some of the limited time you have with them asking them what they think. This gives them the chance to extend their imagination further, as they play out all of the eventualities in their minds. 

Imagination may have played its part in their first steps, and how they formed their first friendships, and of course were at the root of the first games they played. Pretending they were a knight, a queen, a spaceman, a pirate, or a superhero fed their imagination further, and even something like imagining becoming a doctor or pilot when a small child may have planted the seed for a future profession.

That might be the case in the future, but right now, imagination helps a child to understand their surroundings and develop useful life skills like: 

  • Decision making – By imagining different scenarios, a child can work out which they would prefer, something that can have great value in later life.
  • Emotional intelligence – By imagining how others might be feeling, they can treat them appropriately
  • Social skills – When playing with friends, they need to imagine the possibilities about who will play which character in games (like who gets to play Iron man and who is Thor) and resolve conflicts over disagreements.

With this much at stake, you should do what you can to ensure they get a wide and varied range of experiences so they can get inspiration to imagine new scenarios and ask more questions.

How You Can Spark Your Child’s Imagination

With limited time and resources, you might think that there is not too much you can do, but there are some simple ways to turn your child’s imagination ‘up to 11’.

Keep Some Toys Basic

Whereas many toys, especially those based around TV and film franchises, are ultra-realistic, you can also allow your child’s imagination to come into its own by providing cardboard boxes to act as houses castles, fairy tale cottages, or blankets to act as forts or tents.

They could use toys like playdoh or plasticine to create their action figures, which might be inventions of their own. 

Take Them to New Places

As many children spend quite a lot of time in front of a tablet or the TV, they are getting a lot of inspiration there, but you can go one step further. Taking them for a walk out in the open, or a forest can expand their minds further, so they could imagine what happens when it gets dark, or what the animals that live there may say to each other.

Even taking them somewhere like the store could have them thinking about how the items on the shelves got there, and if or how they are produced behind the scenes.

Give Them Plenty of Creative Materials

As well as the cardboard boxes, blankets, and Playdoh, you could arm them with crayons, pencils, and glue, so they have every opportunity to make write and draw what they are picturing in their heads. You could even set aside some time to create something together, so they can see you are getting involved too, and it also means they are spending an hour or two away from things like the TV or the laptop.

You might also want to invest in a drawing tablet or let them play on an old laptop if they show an interest in writing or drawing. This can help as they might judge it as more ‘fun’ to use this more grown-up medium instead of paper and pencil all of the time. 

Read to Them a Lot

You can also tap into other people’s imaginations to spark theirs by telling them stories. This does not just have to be Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, but can be anything you might think will get their imagination flowing.

How These Experiences Might Manifest Themselves

All of this stimulation is likely to send your child’s imagination into overdrive, and it could manifest itself in several ways. These are likely to reveal your child’s creative side through mediums like art, music, or writing.


It is only natural for a child to put what they are imagining down on paper. Pictures of houses and families might be enhanced to include other imaginary characters, or these characters might get pictures of their own. Spaceships, dragons, and princesses, as well as doctors and engineers, might have their story told in a picture, which could be displayed at home, or in the class where they may have created it. You could even get together with other parents or their teacher, to set up an ad-hoc gallery, so the children get to feel like a ‘real’ artist.


Children are exposed to other people’s imagination in the form of stories, so it is only natural that their imagination will produce stories of their own. At a young age though, their vocabulary may be more limited than their imagination, so they will need to be encouraged to carry on. You have a part to play in this, as does their teacher.

One way to inspire the to carry on writing is to see their efforts in print. There are places, like, where your child’s work, along with that of their classmates can be placed in one volume. This can give them a real sense of achievement, as well as create a peer group with a common goal.


One other outlet is to make a performance out of the things they imagined. As well as deciding on characters, they also have the chance to use their imagination for designing sets, props, and costumes. Putting all of this together and showing it to other parents, or as part of a school event can give them the positive feedback they need to carry on.  

As you can see, this level of validation for their work in any form can inspire them to repeat and improve what they have achieved. This, in turn, can motivate them to learn more about their subject matter, and make the whole experience of gaining more knowledge more fun.

To Wrap Everything Up

Imagination is a vital part of any child’s development, so you should take every opportunity to let them explore, ask questions, and learn. This can help with their play, and how to form relationships with others and develop empathy, as well as have a lot of fun.

Encouraging creative behavior can also be important, regardless of the perceived quality of what they create. So, things like shows of their artwork, performances of the stories they have imagined, as well as even putting their stories in print can give them the boost they need to go on to bigger and better things.