How to Nurture Your Child's Imagination

The Spillover Effect

Nurturing that creative side early spills over into other areas of a child's life. "A toddler who's encouraged to think out of the box will know how to look for new and innovative solutions to problems," says Seeger. "In our complex and fast-paced world, flexible and creative thinking has become essential to success at school, at work, and in life."

As it happens, toddlerhood is a great time to focus on creativity because it is by nature the most imaginative period of a child's life. Two- year-olds have only a shaky grasp of what's real and what's imaginary. Thinking out of the box is easy because they haven't yet encountered the restrictions of the box. To them, nothing seems impossible.

A 4-year-old who wants a cookie from a high counter will likely get out a chair to stand on -- a method she knows to be effective. A toddler, by contrast, might pile up her stuffed animals to climb on or try to reach the counter by jumping up and down. Because she can't yet understand what works and what doesn't, she has to invent her own solutions.

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