Monday, October 8, 2012

Playing Pretend

You've heard it a million times, "I'll be the princess, you can be my prince" or "Let's play house". Did you know that this is a good sign of your child's progressing development? It is! It shows that there's some great brain development going on! Imaginary play usually starts around 2 years old and includes everything from role play to imaginary friends to playing pretend.

I vividly remember growing up playing restaurant with my little sister. She had high hopes of becoming a waitress so she would put on her apron, take my order and whip up whatever I wanted to eat for lunch that day- which usually meant a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or macaroni and cheese.

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Playing pretend encourages children's imagination, their social skills, problem solving and emotional development!

Imagination: Using their imaginations is a way for kids to really get their brains working! They can turn everyday objects into the center of their imaginative world. A regular blanket can become a magic carpet taking them on incredible adventures where they can create a whole new world just as Aladdin did. So hang onto old cell phones or dress ups because your children will use them to get their minds going!

Social Skills: When playing pretend with their friends, your kids will learn how to create a story line together where they can learn how to cooperate, share and communicate effectively. Even when they disagree about who gets to be pretend to be the mommy and who pretends to be the baby, working it out is a great way to learn successful problem solving skills!

Problem Solving: Along with settle disagreements with their peers, imaginative play can get him thinking through things. Like, what do I need to do to get teddy ready for bed? How can I take a picture of my awesome fort? How do I build this awesome fort!?

Emotional Development: When kids are playing pretend they are often role playing, this helps them to understand and practice empathy because they are attempting to understand and act out the feelings of others. This is a great tool to get them outside of their normal "all about me" thinking. Plus, how children play is a great indication of what they're dealing with emotionally. For example,  if there's a new sibling your child may pretend to by mommy with her dolls a lot more, or if they are learning how to read they may teach their "students" to read.

So as parents, play along! Have a tea party with invisible treats, dress up for the ball, pretend you're super heroes with towels for capes. Get involved! Not only is it fun it gets those little brains working!
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