Around 7 to 11 kids stop believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Many of them say Disney movies “are too babyish” and when you talk about ‘magic’, ‘miracles’ or anything imaginative they say things like, “That’s not true. You made it up! That’s not possible. That doesn’t even exist!”
This is a normal stage of development where kids emerge from being “at one” with everything into a world where they are now becoming “separate” from everything. It’s not that they don’t want to believe anymore it’s just that they no longer automatically believe. They are trying to make sense of the world from their new viewpoint and trying to work out what is true for them. If you are interested in the theory check out Piaget http://www.noteaccess.com/APPROACHES/ArtEd/ChildDev/PiagetCogS.htm
This is a critical time of development for kids. I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t want kids to lose their faith in their imagination, magic, miracles and possibility completely. So how do you help kids keep it alive?
- Be a role model.
Kids don’t believe in what we tell them to believe in, they believe what we believe! The best way to keep your child’s belief in the power of their imagination is to keep your own! If you have lost yours the reasons below will help.
- Explain the difference between the imagination and the physical world.
Our imagination is not real in the physical world but it is real in our mind. It is the most powerful part of us. It creates our lives, makes our dreams come true and it’s also where Sparky (the loving part of us) and Shady (the scared part of us) live or exist. Our imagination is real! It may not be real in the physical world but it totally affects it because we act on thoughts, ideas and beliefs from our imagination and our actions directly affect the physical world.
Take Santa Claus and Christmas for example. If your child has already decided that Santa Claus is not “real”, it is time to explain to them how that is true in the physical world BUT that Santa is completely true in our imaginations and he directly affects the physical world. When they question you ask, “Well how could hundreds of millions of kids across the world all get presents on Christmas day if Santa wasn’t real somewhere, somehow?” Yes parents buy kids presents and wrap them up and put them under the tree (and drink and eat Santa’s milk and cookies) but why do they do that? Why do hundreds of millions of parents ALL do the Santa thing at the same time? They do it because they all believe in Santa in their imaginations! If they didn’t Christmas wouldn’t exist.
- Point out that there is MAGIC everywhere! (Magic is evidence of the creative power of the imagination)
Here, rather than explain I will just list some magic that I have noticed over the past couple of days: the sun rising, birds flying, a flower opening, a whale jumping, feeling love in my heart when my son cuddles me, a turkey building a mound in my backyard to attract a mate, a girl turkey laying an egg or two in that mound, a baby wallaby hopping out of its mum’s pouch to eat a cauliflower stalk, water coming out of the tap when I turn it on, having food to eat in my fridge, going to the bank and getting money out of the ATM, driving my car, talking to my dad on the phone when he lives 900km away, connecting with 18 new people in a loving way in a matter of hours… and the list goes on and on!
Our world is an amazing and incredible place, and as Albert said…
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
- Give your child PROOF of magic.
Do the following activity with your child to prove that your imagination can affect the physical world.
Sit your child down and sit opposite them (not touching). Get them to close their eyes and tell them to focus on their heart because you are going to imagine sending love into their heart and you want to see if they can feel it. Think about how much you love your child and in your imagination send them love from your heart to theirs (maybe a rainbow, a stream of light, whatever you want). Fill them up with love.
It worked didn’t it? You can even do this over the phone!
- Use rational thinking
Okay developmentally speaking your child has every right to receive a rational explanation so here’s how I rationally prove that ‘Sparky’ (the loving part of us) exists when kids (usually around 9) tell me that I made them up…
“I did make up the words ‘Sparky’ and ‘Shady’ but I didn’t make up the fact that you have a loving part of you and a scared part of you. If you don’t believe in Sparky that means you must believe in Shady because Shady is scared that Sparky doesn’t exist.
You can’t believe in one without believing in the other because they are opposites that complement each other, which means they exist together.
You can’t be a complete, whole person without love and fear in your imagination! BAMM! If the names ‘Sparky and Shady’ are too childish for you call them something else – something you make up in your imagination!” (hee hee)
Go for it; keep the magic of your child’s imagination alive!