Yesterday, I had an interesting discussion with Dovi, a five-year-old boy, at the beach. Dovi told me he wants to build a sandcastle and needs a bucket for this purpose. He looked around, searching for a bucket, but there was none in sight.
I asked - why do you need a bucket? He answered he needed it to carry water, get the sand wet, and build a castle. I said – you can bring wet sand with your hands, from near the water. Dovi looked at me unconvinced and firmly said - I need a bucket.
I tried again- what about carrying water in your hands? Do you want to give it a go? Dovi looked at me as if I said the most ridiculous thing and then reiterated- I need a bucket.
I wasn’t going to give up, so I tried again- you know, if you dig deep enough, you will get to wet sand. Dovi looked at me as if I really didn’t get it and said – I need a bucket. I left my bucket in the car.
I realised that to adopt a different idea, Dovi must be the one that comes up with the new concept. So I asked him – how else can you get water? Dovi looked at me, right in the eye, without blinking and said – I need a bucket.
It was clear that Dovi was stuck, and I had to find a way to get him unstuck. I needed to get his conscious mind thinking about other things while his subconscious mind is working on his problem in the background. Therefore, I said- let’s walk along the beach and see what treasures we can find. So we walked.
Soon enough, Dovi picked up one of the many shells lying on the sand, looked at me and said – I can use this to bring water. I was thrilled! It’s working!
I replied excitedly - this is a wonderful idea, Dovi! Shortly after that, Dovi picked up a bottle top and said – I can use this as well to bring water! I was over the moon. His mind got over the hurdle and started to come up with different, creative solutions to his problem. Dovi was no longer stuck on what was “supposed” to be the solution for his problem.
So Dovi took the shell and the bottle cap and walked towards the water. As he was nearing the water, a wave crashed on the shore, and water was rushing towards him. Dovi quickly turned around, ran away from the water, and shouted, "There is a wave. I can’t get water!" Now Dovi had another problem to solve….
A conversation with a child can be our greatest teacher as there are many insights and valuable lessons to learn. Here are three to share: 1. You better have nerves of steel when talking with children. 2. Children are not interested in your ideas. 3. It is never too early to help your child develop creative thinking.
What are your takeaways?