Think outside the box

Think outside the box

“But then I realized, what do they really know? This is MY idea, I thought. 
No one knows it like I do. And it’s okay if it’s different, and weird, 
and maybe a little crazy.”
What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada


How many times have we heard the following phrase?

“Think outside the box”

I’m thinking: “Then, let’s make the box.”

We will need some homemade materials:

Ideas: Dig into your thoughts and brainstorm. Sometimes it helps to play the “dreamland emergency”: use little pieces of paper and take turns talking about dreams, wishes, ideas and things we like.

Cardboard box: You can use any type of box but we recommend a cardboard box (shoe box, mail packaging box, cereal box, etc.) because children can decorate them more easily than plastic or wooden boxes. Use stickers, sequins, magazine cutouts, markers and pencils, and invite the kids to decorate the box. 

This game allows creative thinking without fearing criticism or corrections because there are no right or wrong answers. In fact, there are no specific guidelines or set-in-stone rules. You can lead the children simply by writing down the thoughts, and remembering not to judge or be tempted to “rephrase” what they say. Let them speak out loud, get the enthusiasm going, move around if it happens, or sit, lay down, even roll around. Movement is proved to help and even encourage creative thinking and problem solving. The Kidness is a big supporter of physical expression because moving to the rhythm of music or to the silence of inner thoughts can help with frustration, anger, anxiety, and overall tiredness.

We suggest using this activity when there’s an “AAARRGGHH-moment.” That is, when children get frustrated, feeling unable to do something that’s preventing them from achieving the goal. Kids can feel stuck, uptight, unable to focus. So we need to provide them with a tool to deal constructively with the infuriating moment. Here’s when to introduce the box of ideas, showing them we are calm and positive, and using our most soothing voice, we invite them to respond creatively to the frustration. This means taking a break from the negative emotion and feeding confidence and happiness through play. Don’t try to thread through the problem. Actually, solving the problem can only arise from a place of relaxation when the chain of negative emotions has been broken. By doing the “dreamland emergency game” we encourage understanding and problem solving. Frequently, children find out that they can shift their goals to others that can be achieved in the short term, still experiencing success. More so, having ideas written down will serve as a source of inspiration to go back and continue the struggle for long term goals some other day. This means “taking one step at a time”: helping children set goals using the setback as information and looking at the situation from a different perspective.

Be flexible, share your story, show a “pretty reaction” to misfortune: talk about your own present difficulties and how you overcome them. Maybe tell your stories about mistakes you made when you were their age. “Think outside the box” means learning to master the skills that help us thrive and keep building our lives. In other words, it’s about finding and noting our emotions and embracing them, in the good and bad, in the big and small, with smiles and with tears.


“But no one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, ‘Courage, dear heart.’”
—Voyage of Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis