How Pretend Play Can Help Your Toddler Flourish
Research has shown that when toddlers and young children use their imaginations, they are more creative, do better at school and develop a logical approach to solving problems and learning in general. Experts also say that the pretending process builds skills in many essential developmental areas. We’ve gone through five ways in which pretend play can massively benefit your child in their development
1. Social development
When children engage in pretend play, they’re actively experimenting with the social roles of life. Dr. Catherine Neilsen-Hewett, a lecturer and researcher in child development, explains:
“Imaginative play has the greatest impact on the development of key skills that are important for children’s success with peers. When playing creatively with their friends, your child learns to co-operate and compromise.”
She adds that it encourages children to partake in social activities and to understand social relationships and emphasizes the value of playing with dolls and toy action figures.
She says that this form of play encourages children to learn how to interact socially and develop social cues by experimenting with eye contact, using different tones and emotions.
Children also learn to have conversations, which they enact by talking to their dolls and action figures and imagining responses. Playing with action figures also helps build self-esteem, as any child can be a hero – just by pretending.
2. Language development
Children can expand their vocabulary and experiment freely with words in their own space and time, without the risk of embarrassment if they use the words incorrectly. By engaging in pretend play with others, children begin to understand that words give them the power to re-enact a story and to organize play.
3. Emotional development
Imaginative play allows your child to express both positive and negative feelings as they become familiar with the imaginary worlds that they are creating. Additionally, it helps them to address difficult emotions they may be feeling and develop ways to understand them.
4. Physical development
Children express themselves both verbally and non-verbally through imaginative play. They use all their muscles and senses to achieve this. Working with art materials like crayons, scissors, paintbrushes and play dough promotes fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. To stimulate gross motor skills you can encourage percussion, dancing, mural painting or large construction projects like building tents.
5. Thinking skills
Imaginative play fosters mental growth by creating opportunities for trying out new ideas, ways of thinking and problem-solving. In pretend play, children face a variety of problems to solve. Whether it’s two children who want to play the same role or looking for the right material to use for a doll’s bed, children will use important thinking skills that they’ll use through their lives.
Our Top 5 Pretend Play Picks: