A few days ago, Bunmi Laditan, author and mommy blogger, wrote a piece on the magic of childhood. Laditan argues that parents should stop trying to create magical moments for their children and tone down extravagant gifts, decorations, and bedrooms. She's not saying that parents shouldn't spend quality time with their children or create fun moments, childhood, Laditan argues, is already a magical time so why do parents feel the need to construct larger-than-life magical moments?
While Bunmi’s point-of-view seems to buck the tide of Millennial moms and dads committed to creating the kind of cherished childhood that they never really had themselves (think princesses actually coming to your kids’ birthday parties instead of princesses that simply populate their plates!), we do think she makes an important point about children more than about moms.
Laditan points out that children can find almost anything magical. Childhood is filled with moments of fascination and delight that parents have very little control over: seeing your first snowfall, meeting your first friend in school, finding something to be passionate about (if only for a few minutes). Even when kids are given an engaging game or offered an over-the-top toy, they often play on their own terms.
It’s clear that kids can create their own magic, but perhaps even more importantly, they should. Being presented with a magical moments is exciting, but discovering and owning it feels even better. The experience of finding magic in unexpected places inspires kids to experiment and take risks. And for marketers and content creators, watching how and where they experience magic is as important as knowing what it is.
The notion of leaving a little bit for kids to finish or find on their own isn’t new in innovation. Products and properties that provide little direction can open up endless magic. Characters that let you contribute to the story keep you engaged and interested. Play products that imagine a child who participates, not just performs a static script tend to get more use. Understanding that almost anything can be magical opens up numerous possibilities for how we position products and brands in kids’ lives.