Pretend play, also known as make-believe play, imaginative play, and fantasy play, is when a child pretends to be someone else, or imagines an object to be something else, for fun and entertainment. Whenever your child imitates your actions, talks to an imaginary friend, or pretends to make phone calls using the television remote, she is engaging in pretend play.
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting the crucial role of pretend play in the cognitive development of children aged two to seven. However, in a world of iPads, iPhones and MacBooks, there is now a real danger of parents overlooking pretend play in favour of any one of those electronic devices. The detriments of overexposing a child to technology have been widely documented (there are many good reasons why Steve Jobs and many other leaders of technology firms strictly limit the amount of time their children spend in front of a screen). Instead, we present to you the 4 biggest reasons why you should engage your child in pretend play.
#1. You can develop your child’s social and emotional skills
Whether your child is hosting elaborate tea parties with her favourite teddy bear and toy rabbit, or playing house with other children, your child is taking on roles that are outside of her everyday life experiences. Such play roles will allow her to start thinking about what it is like to be someone else, and practice seeing things from someone else’s shoes, leading to the development of empathy and compassion. With the proper guidance from adults, pretend play will also help your child to develop the capacity for forms of self-regulation including impulse control and delay of gratification. When your child is playing the role of “host of the tea party” and taught to distribute the scones equally among the participants of the party, she learns to resist the impulse of hoarding all the scones for herself or only assigning them to the participants she likes.
#2. You can develop your child’s language skills
Making up stories and speaking to or on behalf of Mr. Cuddles the teddy bear, and other imaginary friends is a big part of pretend play. When your child verbalises her pretend play experiences, she is practicing words and phrases that she hears at home or in school. As your child improves her language skills, she will be able to verbalise more complex stories and scenarios, leading to a further enhancement of her grammar and vocabulary and thereby creating a positive feedback loop. You and your partner can aid the process by setting a good example with the language you use, and correcting and explaining to your child errors in grammar or vocabulary.
#3. You can develop your child’s thinking skills and creativity
Pretend play often involves your child recalling situations from past experiences and recreating them. Whether it is a visit to the doctor’s or Mom preparing dinner for the family, as your child role plays through each situation, she will encounter dilemmas that require some problem solving skills and creativity. While she may not always make the most logical decisions regarding the treatment of the injured foot of her teddy bear or how to cook a fish, the process of thinking through each problem and coming up with a solution will gradually become second nature, putting her in good stead when she encounter real-life problems. You can further encourage the development of your child’s thinking skills by asking suitable questions and prompting creative ideas.
#4. You can have fun and bond with your child at the same time
Perhaps the most important reason why you should spend some quality time with your child in pretend play is simply because it is a fun, bonding activity for both parent and child! Your child will often say or do the most hilarious things while playing and you can also influence your child’s development by providing suitable guidance and teaching valuable life lessons at the appropriate times.
BRINGING PRETEND PLAY TO LIFE
One of the best ways to encourage pretend play is to create a prop box or simply a corner of the house filled with themed objects and let your child’s creativity take it from there!
At The Happy Toy Store, we have the most delightful ready-made prop boxes such as the Pink Ribbon Kitchen Set and Usamomo Tea Time Set for all your child’s pretend cooking and pretend tea party needs.
Pink Ribbon Kitchen Set
Usamomo Tea Time Set
Sirotan getting his tea party costume on and Usamomo looking like she's ready to party
Browse our online store now and get your child started on a journey through the make-believe world of pretend play!
Share this post