Cultivate an Open Mind in Your Children
If we were to ask adults, “What is this?” most people would say a black dot.
Well, they might also call it a circle, a period, a blob or polka dot too. Show children the same black dot and ask, “What is this?” and you will hear boundless possibilities. A pupil. A worm hole. What the top of people’s heads look like to a bird. Children are naturally equipped to see new and different possibilities in something that seems obvious. They are exercising an open-mind.
Leading with Imagination
When children play and experiment they are constantly leading with their imagination and coming up with new ideas that are made possible thanks to their open-mindedness and willingness to try the silly, the novel, and the unexpected out. They give ideas a chance, they don’t dismiss an idea too quickly, and they are driven by their curiosity. And it is this very skill that will be, or already is, necessary to thrive in a constantly changing world. An open mind is exactly what makes it possible for society to be innovative and move forward.
Creative Thinking – that ability to see things in fresh ways, think along unorthodox lines, and break barriers
At Minnesota Children’s Museum, we have identified seven skills, the Powers of Play, we believe children need to thrive, now and throughout their lives, one of which is creative thinking. Open-minded is component of creative thinking – that ability to see things in fresh ways, think along unorthodox lines, and break barriers. Having an open-mind is a cognitive skill and a vibrant piece of creative thinking. It has even been identified as a major influential factor in intelligence overall. It is an open-mind that allows a person to reconsider, keep alternative options open, and contemplate what is not but could be.
Unlike many other lifelong skills that need to be practiced and continue to grow as the child grows, having an open-mind is actually something children already excel at. Therefore, instead of trying to increase the capacity and ability of this skill, what is needed is making sure it doesn’t decrease or worse, disappear. It needs to be protected so that children continue to leverage it.
Encouraging an Open-Mind with Your Child
To help your child preserve an open mind start with allowing ample time to explore freely and generate ideas that are novel or unexpected. Be open-minded yourself by accepting the unusualness of your child’s thoughts. Try to adapt to their ideas rather than steer them a different direction. Lastly, learn alongside your child. Show them a person never stops learning new things.