The Power of Imagination: Believe in Make-Believe

A long time ago, back when I was harboring dream – which I still have to this day – of running my own freelancing business, I interviewed a respected University Lecturer and Author on this very subject, and drafted up a rather decent article about it. Sadly, no publications I approached were interested in it. (Oh how much I have learned since then.) So here it is in post form. Why? Because it is actually a topic I believe strongly in, and something that I have seen people getting annoyed about, and even taking medicinal steps to stop it.

I am a dreamer. I always have been and always will be. I find it all too easy to just drift off into a day-dream somewhere. I have always been like that. As long as I can remember at least. I used to sit on the bus to and from school for an hour each way. I would just stare out of the window and allow my mind to have fun, to just run wild and take me to exciting places.

When I was a young child, I had an imaginary dog… yes a dog. Bumpy I called him – clearly inspired by the legendary Noddy – and as I grew, Bumpy left me, but the power of dreams, never faded.

We live in a world were kids as young as 6 are expected to sit for exams every year, they are forced into becoming adults and even planning out their future careers at an age when you don’t even know half of the careers or avenues that are out there. I truly believe that we are becoming a society that is doing everything it can to stop children being children. Parents don’t let their kids play in the mud, climb trees or run around for fear of … an extra load of laundry, or a grazed knee. We are seeing more children with allergies and asthma, not because the world is becoming dirtier, but because homes are cleaner, parents disinfecting every surface five times a day. It is no wonder that these children are becoming sick. Not only is it good for a child to get out in the fresh air and roll around in the dirty, I honestly believe that it is healthy for them.

Yet, the point I find most startling, and the most damaging is the way we are limiting  imagination. By smothering children and throwing them into the adult world before they are ready, we are ridding them of a very crucial part of development.

Children are better being told to day-dream for an hour a day than to have homework for an hour a day after school. They should be encouraged to fantasize and dream up imaginary friends and locations. It is healthy, it is important and at the end of the day it is fun.

I have heard and read stories of parents seeking medical help because their child has an imaginary friend, or is always off in a day-dream…. Hello!! they are children.

Just imagine living in a world where make-believe no longer exists. No more tea parties or crazy jungle adventures in the woods.  Without imagination, would there still be dreams? The one place that even adults secretly enjoy escaping too. That last and only truly private place, where even the most serious and business minded of men can escape and live the life of a lost boy riding around Never-Never Land.

I can take it a step further even and say that with the state of the world as it is. A world filled were absent fathers and abuse borders on becoming the norm (and semi-accepted), what is wrong with a child making up their own heroes.

Superheroes and Comic book (or to be correct Graphic Novel) characters are more than just crime fighters, or people with magical powers. They stand for things on a deeper, yet often more simplistic level. A level that a lot of children see and take comfort in. To take that away from them and force them to face the harsh realities of the world and what it is becoming… to me, that is abuse.

Who cares if a child day dreams of being Superman, or sits on the sofa, or in the garden and just stares into space, enjoying the silent adventures his mind can create for him. It’s healthier than watching TV or playing video games all day long. I mean, what are video games and cartoons if not imagination replacements.

As a collective, parents are happy to sit their kids in front of the TV, or to let them play computer games all day long. Why? “Because it keeps them quiet” or even worse the old “Because the shows nowadays are educational and help their development.”  To that I saw BULLSHIT. OK, maybe the cartoons are tilted towards education in some way, but nothing comes close to allowing a child to imagine things on their own. To play!

I say let a child have an imaginary friend, set a place for him / her at the dinner table, ask them questions, and get to know them. Join in when your son or daughter is running through the house on the back of a pony, or leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Why, because it is good for them, and it would be good for you too.

You are never too old to have an imagination, and you are certainly never too old to start using it again.

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9 thoughts on “The Power of Imagination: Believe in Make-Believe

  1. Reblogged this on Spookymrsgreen's Blog and commented:
    This is a topic that is of growing importance to me every day, as I watch my daughter develop and grow. I am even starting to wonder whether I want her to go to school or not. I will certainly not force her to worry about silly exams at a young age. Release your imagination! Live in the moment. Embrace your dreams and free you mind!

  2. That is a brilliant post, Alex. I totally agree with you. Only recently I heard on the radio that primary school children were being given homework, and I nearly had a fit! It is wrong, and I will encourage my daughter and any future children, to be creative and enjoy their playtime.

  3. Brilliant post, Alex. I agree that children are not given the chance to use their imagination much these days. I do my best to encourage my children to be imaginative and to come up with ideas for play and fun without my input. I think that, when kids learn to rely on their own imaginations and their own thinking to entertain themselves, they grow in confidence and in independence.

    1. Thank you Rebecca, I am glad that you like the post. I think having a good imagination is the best thing for a kid. It is definately a good thing for them, and as you say it helps them develop confidence and not be afraid to do things on their own.

  4. I heartily agree! Children’s (and adults’) imagination is being squelched; we’re taught that the “real world” is all-important, even a huge portion of our relaxation time is spent with “reality” tv shows. There is a dangerous conception that make-believe is not necessary, or even compatible, with everyday living; when in fact a healthy imagination sharpens and broadens the intellect and reason, and make-believe stories are a fundamental part of who we are, both individually and as a society.

    1. Thanks for commenting Rebekah. I am glad that you agree wtih me. I think that we are all to eager to forget not just how much fun it can be to day dream and escape for a while, but how wholesome it is.

    1. I am glad you liked the article Daron. It is imperative to allow children the chance to develop their imagination. I didn’t even get started on Santa or the Easter Bunny. The post would have become far too long then. 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

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