Imagination as a Tool for Correction

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The imagination is a powerful thing! Children love to imagine things and play make-believe. Use this to your benefit when getting kids to obey.

Girl in tall grass blowing on dandelions

I have to admit that if there is something I lack in life it is imagination. I can be creative; I sew, make jewelry, scrapbook, etc. But I have found my creativity really comes alive after spending several days in a row working on a type of project and letting things flow. Logic is a very strong point for me, and it often pushes the imagination off the stage.

Brayden seems to have inherited this tendency from me while Kaitlyn is very imaginative, especially for a child her age.

When Does Imagination Kick in for Kids?

On Becoming Preschoolwise says that most children really begin to display their imaginations as preschoolers (page 15). This has been true for Brayden, while Kaitlyn’s imagination has flourished at a much younger age (by 18 months). I would guess this is true for many children who are not the oldest. She plays with her imaginative brother during the day and has really picked up on it.

The imaginative play is really fun to watch. It is also great because Brayden doesn’t really play with toys–everything is imaginative right now. That means everything stays cleaner! As a mom, I often inadvertently step on something, fall into some river, etc.

Using Imagination as a Tool for Correction

Preschoolwise points out something really beneficial for mom when it comes to imagination, “Mom should take advantage of the child’s imagination to achieve some healthy goals. Like when the lumps of steamed broccoli become foot soldiers preparing to march off to war against the formidable flu germ enemy causing his cold. Get clever, make his imagination work for you” (page 16).

The first time I read this book, I completely missed that part. Brayden was barely two years old and definitely not using his imagination to play yet. The last time I read this book, however, this point really stood out to me.

Tips for using a child's imagination as a tool for correction with a picture of a girl blowing dandelions

Many times, the -wise series can seem very rigid when it comes to discipline. This idea of using the imagination to your advantage is very flexible. I must admit that I don’t do that. I expect compliance with what I say; I want my children to obey me just because I have asked them to do something.

If there is something at dinner that they don’t want to eat, they need to eat it. Not that I am unwilling to provide a reasoning for my instructions, but my reasoning is always logical. You eat broccoli because it is healthy and good for you, not because they are foot soldiers to fight the germs inside.

Read: You Don’t Have to Like it, But You Do Have to Eat It

Brayden (approaching 4 as I write this) has been very good to obey me in these ways. I am sure this has a lot to do with him being logical. Most of the time, Kaitlyn (23 months as I write this) is very good at obeying also, but there are times, especially with food, that she is resistant.

My husband is very good at getting Kaitlyn to eat. He can get her to eat anything. Something that she was pursing her lips to a moment ago will suddenly be consumed with the utmost happiness. My husband uses imaginative techniques to get her to eat her food.

A current parenting goal of mine is to tap into my imagination with my children, both in play and instruction.

The Power of the Imagination

If there is something you are struggling to get your child to do, consider the possibility of using imagination to help the process.

There is the dinner table as discussed above. There is teeth brushing. You can have your child be a lion and open his mouth very big.

You can turn walking to naptime into a fun game by pretending to be a fun animal or some other character your child is interested in.

Everything doesn’t need to be serious with perfect and proper movement from your children. We can all have fun during childhood, too. 

Read: How To Encourage Imagination in Kids

Related Posts

On Becoming Pottywise
On Becoming Teenwise
On Becoming Preteenwise
On Becoming Childwise
On Becoming Preschoolwise
On Becoming Toddlerwise
On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise
On Becoming Babywise Book 2
On Becoming Babywise
On Becoming Pottywise
On Becoming Teenwise
On Becoming Preteenwise
On Becoming Childwise
On Becoming Preschoolwise
On Becoming Toddlerwise
On Becoming Pre-Toddlerwise
On Becoming Babywise Book 2
On Becoming Babywise

How to get your child to obey by tapping into the imagination with a picture of a girl blowing dandelions

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook


  1. Jamie
    May 4, 2009 / 4:23 PM

    I can already see that I am going to have trouble with this imagination thing, and my son is only 6 months old. Part of me thinks that it’s “tricking” your child into eating something. I, too, am a very logical person (I’m a math teacher…logic is in my blood!). I have a hard time enjoying movies because I can’t suspend my disbelief. Thankfully God gave me a husband that is creative and imaginative. I feel like in order to be “creative”, I’ll have to brainstorm ways over the next year or so and then strategically implement them.

  2. Jennifer
    May 4, 2009 / 5:16 PM

    Me too! My husband is so funny and creative, he can get our daughter to do anything. I’m like you…I want her to do it because she should. Sigh…I guess that’s why we’re all BW moms to begin with!

  3. Everybody Eats
    May 4, 2009 / 6:46 PM

    Doesn’t that feel sad though? The fact that we should remind ourselves at all that childhood is supposed to be a time of imagination, creativity, wonder, and delight? And not just training our children into being upright moral citizens? Makes me suspicious of the whole baby wise thing, truthfully.

  4. Natalie
    May 4, 2009 / 6:56 PM

    Thank you so much for this post. I too am SO logical and as my son is just starting to discover imagination and I watch in AWE – it’s good to be reminded to join in and have FUN. Everything you wrote just rang true to the way I think – thank you!

  5. LC
    May 4, 2009 / 7:37 PM

    Maybe that is why we are all attracted to BW. I have never done anything imaginative when it comes to instruction. More power to those that do!

  6. elle
    May 5, 2009 / 7:04 AM

    its really hard for me getting my 23 month old daughter brushign her teeth..and now ive found new tactics, which is i pretend to brush her doll’s teeth, later then i ask her to open her mouth and her teeth. i take turns brushing her teeth and her doll’s teeth. it really works for me…

  7. overlyactive
    May 8, 2009 / 4:14 AM

    This is so important thanks for the reminder! Brushing teeth I have them growl like a lion.

  8. Plowmanators
    May 19, 2009 / 4:30 PM

    Jamie, I am the same…my husband is very imaginative. Luckily imagination and creativity are like any other skill; the more you do it, the better you get at it and it becomes more of who you are. I know about the “tricking.” I find it intersting that Hogg (The Baby Whisperer) doesn’t endorse imagination with eating but Ezzo does. If I had been told one doesn’t and one does and asked to guess, I would have been wrong!

  9. Plowmanators
    May 19, 2009 / 4:30 PM

    I think you are right, Jennifer. And it just goes to show that it is great to have different strengths and weaknesses than your spouse. Together, you are whole 🙂

  10. Plowmanators
    May 19, 2009 / 6:27 PM

    Everybody eats, I don’t really see why you would be suspicious of Babywise? Babywise is the one advocating imagination. Babywise didn’t make me a person who not as imaginative; I just am that way. I have been since I was a child. My little sister is very imaginative naturally and very much not a logical person naturally. I was that way before Babywise was even written.

  11. Plowmanators
    May 19, 2009 / 6:29 PM

    Natalie,I also watch in awe as I see Kaitlyn. She is our imaginative one here. I have always suspected she would be more imaginative and artistic. It is fun to see the natural talents of our children, and fun to let those natural talents bring good things out in us.

  12. Plowmanators
    May 19, 2009 / 6:29 PM

    I agree LC. I think BW attracts a certain type of person. There are definitely imaginative people who do BW, but I think most who do it are logical types.

  13. Plowmanators
    May 19, 2009 / 6:30 PM

    Thanks Elle, that is a fun idea!

  14. Plowmanators
    May 19, 2009 / 6:31 PM

    overlyactive, I also do the open like a lion for brushing teeth. And you are welcome!

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