A couple of days ago, I started playing a small game with my almost 5-year-old girl, before she goes to sleep. The game is about imagining fictional stories happening with her. For example, I say "Let us imagine that you have a beautiful horse, and you go on a ride on that horse and see a little bird..." She enjoys this game so much that sometimes we have to imagine 5 or 6 stories.

Till now this seems OK, but what worries me is that she always tells me "Yes, yes, I want to buy a horse; yes, yes, I want a baby tiger." So she always tries to make or dreams of making the story a reality. Today she is waiting for me to play the imagination game before she goes to sleep, and I am wondering if I should continue with this game, or switch back to bedtime stories.

4 Answers 4


You have just stumbled inadvertently on the principle of advertising: if you only had (this item), your life would be so great! (you would be happier, etc.) It's possible that you're creating your own ads for "things". Changing the narrative to non-material possessions may help.

Kids do love to be the stars of their stories, so keep entertaining your daughter in this manner from time to time, but don't make the adventures depend on "things" she doesn't already have, or make the star of the story a trait she can develop: kindness, compassion, tolerance, perseverance, wisdom, etc., things within her capability.

Another thing you can try is using magical things, things she knows don't actually exist so which she can't ask to own.

Finally, There are some wonderful stories out there that don't involve her at all; I would not want my kids to have missed out on the Winnie the Pooh stories, the Just So stories, Brer Rabbit, or hundreds of others.

My worry about telling her too many stories starring herself is that she might carry this expectation into real life.

  • 1
    Thanks! Your are 100% right, I was promoting material possessions to her, I thinking switching back to bedtime stories will be better, especially she still has a lot of time before growing too old for bedtime stories :). Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 8:45
  • Some adults still think they can only happy after they have some millions in their bank account Commented Aug 5, 2016 at 4:57

I think it's great! But maybe switch to things she can do instead of things she can have. But on the other hand, what a great way to teach her about the difference between real and pretend, and even about how we can't always have everything we want! I think it's great to have daydreams, if we can learn to be content in the knowledge that not all our daydreams can become reality. It's a part of life, so why stop your fun to hide that truth?


I think that perhaps this is an opportunity for a more interesting conversation. I think there's nothing wrong with her saying she wants a baby tiger or a horse or whatever; it's quite common (Pony is the traditional thing, but tiger, who knows!).

What's valuable is the conversation after she says she wants it.

I want a baby pony!

Okay dear, so, where are we going to keep this baby pony?

In the yard.

Okay, but an adult pony requires at the minimum 500 square meters of space to roam to feel happy. We have 100 square meter back yard. Where do we move him to when he grows up?


I want a baby tiger!

Okay dear, sounds good. What are we feeding this baby tiger?


Okay dear. Tigers need 10 kg of meat per day. Do you know what that costs?


A kg of beef costs $3. So $30 per day in meat.

Sounds good dad!

Okay, so where are you going to earn this money?


Etc. The important thing to learn for the child is why we can't really have the tiger/pony/whatever. Have intelligent conversations with her about exactly what details are keeping you from having a tiger/pony/etc. will help her develop the skills later in life for choosing not to buy the $1500 sound system or going to the $100 a plate restaurant.


Take a look at No Thank You Evil ! A game of Make-Believe from Monte Cook.

It's designed for kids from 5 years old. It sounds a bit like what you are doing but with a bit more structure.

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