My 5-year-old is always bored. I'd like to encourage her to be more imaginative, so that she can enjoy her downtime more. Any tips?
You're wise to want to give your child a passport to the Land of Make Believe. Children who have to rely on grownups for entertainment inevitably spend a lot of their time feeling bored. After all, it's a rare child indeed who has a grownup available to play the role of round-the-clock entertainment director!
You can set the stage for imaginative play by providing your child with some of the "raw materials" for imaginative play: dressup clothes that will allow her to become a firefighter or a princess the moment she dons a hat or a veil; building blocks that can be used to create towers and castles; and other creative materials.
Listening to music together, reading books to your child, and telling stories at bedtime can also help to bring your child's imagination to life. (Remember how those classic campfire ghost stories used to send your imagination into overdrive when you were a kid?)
You'll also find that exposing your child to different environments may help to spark imaginative play. She'll be more inclined to want to pretend to be an explorer if you've spent the day hiking through the forest than if she's been stuck at home all day.
Finally, don't overlook the importance of allowing time for imaginative play. If a child's life is overscheduled -- she's rushed from swimming lessons to gymnastics to soccer, for example -- she simply may not have the time to give her imagination a proper workout.
This question was answered by Ann Douglas, author of 27 books, including The Mother of All Pregnancy Books (U.S. edition and Canadian edition); The Mother of All Baby Books (U.S. edition and Canadian edition); The Mother of All Toddler Books (U.S. edition and Canadian edition); The Mother of All Parenting Books (U.S. edition or Canadian Edition); and The Mother of All Pregnancy Organizers. Find out more about Ann.