Sit and watch any child playing, and you will be witnessing one of the most amazing developmental shifts of early childhood. The child engaged in some imaginative play; where cardboard boxes are his ships set out on a voyage, a bunch of stones can run faster than racing cars, and living room sofa cushions can be built into strong fort walls to hide from mommy and daddy!
Welcome to the wonderful world of pretend play where children transform through play! This imaginative child’s play is a critical and important milestone in every child’s life. When a child engages in pretend play, they are actively experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. Through cooperative play, they learn patience and how to take turns, share responsibility, and creatively problem-solve.
Here are five reasons why parents should encourage and be a part of imaginative play.Sparks imagination and problem-solving skills.
Imagine the skills required to build a fort out of cushions and pillows making sure it lasts the play and not cave in, or turning a sand box into an excavation site. Imagination is where children can explore an infinite amount of possible combinations of ideas, emotions, and perspectives.
Research shows that imaginative play led to enhanced curiosity, memory and learning skills, creativity and critical thinking
Builds self-esteem and confidence
A child remains ego centric for years. However, when a child begins to play imaginatively, they step out of their singular point of view and starts thinking of everything literally. It helps them make sense of the world around and gain self-confidence. When we acknowledge and accept our children’s make believe world where they have complete control and can be anything just by pretending it enhances their self-esteem.
Whether the child is self-talking or to her stuffed toy, it’s a great opportunity for the child to express and exercise to learn to speak their mind and develop important conversation skills.
Pretend play, makes a child actively experiment with the social and emotional roles of life. Research shows taking up different roles, the child experiences “walking in someone else’s shoes,” teaching them self-regulation (including reduced aggression), delayed gratification, and empathy.
The art of negotiation:
One of the fascinating aspect of pretend play is how a child negotiates and agrees upon a situation which is mutually beneficial. Learning social cues and adapting the emotions accordingly is no easy task.
Put a hold on whatever you are doing and indulge deep into your child’s imaginative play when he asks you to, and explore the infinite learning opportunities. Play along and share happiness. It strengthens their trust in you and the world around them.