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    Can Some Children Have Too Much Imagination?

    By Seth Mullins     

    It has been argued that an excess of imagination can interfere with a child’s ability to function in the everyday world. Psychologists warn that there are potential dangers, the foremost being that the primary “real” world might take a back seat to a child’s fantasies. Sometimes parents become concerned enough to seek counseling or other forms of remedial work for their young ones.

    Imagination can be explained as a faculty within us that allows our thought processes to expand beyond simply reacting to the world of visible objects. Imagination is our vehicle for exploring possibilities. Without it, our behavior would always be limited to what we had seen done before. But imagination can introduce fear into a child’s life. A young boy or girl will have no problems sleeping in a dark room until he or she learns to people it with monsters. Then, suddenly, the closet and the space beneath the bed are no longer safe. Now, we naturally want to reassure our children that there will be no green goblins coming to eat them; but should we be so eager to suppress their ability to envision such things? The everyday world that we want them to focus on is, after all, a world of consequences, and play-acting can be one of the ways in which a child begins to anticipate what its possible pitfalls might be.

    Maybe we should stop worrying about whether our children are too imaginative and look, instead, at how their imagination is being directed. If we encourage them to put their inner visions into some kind of form then they’ll become a part of the tangible world. They could draw pictures of those night-crawling monsters, or sculpt them with clay. Our little demons tend to lose much of their frightful aspects when we drag them into the light.

    Television, to the contrary, works to replace a child’s inner images with its own. It’s difficult to gauge the effect this has upon the imagination. The irony is that we as a society worry that overly-creative children will have difficulties coping with the “real” world, and yet we condone forms of media that confront these children with dramas and conflicts – even violence – that isn’t at all present and real. Worse still, television encourages the spirit of imitation. We will notice this as our children begin abandoning their play-acting in favor of reciting movie dialogue. While we might be concerned that our kids’ indulgences in fantasy could lead to ungrounded behavior, parroting media personalities seems like a dubious trade-off.

    Imagination and reality are not really at such odds. In fact, much of what exists in our world of facts was once an image in someone’s head. Various methods of creative play, such as sculpting, drawing, painting, collage and costume making can serve as bridges between the inner world of vision and the outer world of action. Children who regularly engage in such activities – especially when we curb their exposure to media – will be able to adjust smoothly to the daily world with their rich and valuable imaginations intact.

    Written by Seth MullinsRate this article:

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