Why is Play Pretend Important for Kids?
Nowadays, it’s easy just to let your kids have a phone or tablet to play or watch cartoons so you can do other things. I’m not judging you because I do that too, but I know that it’s unhealthy if they just do that constantly.
Like with any other activity, we must monitor and limit our children to overdoing them. Excessive use of gadgets, in particular, has an adverse effect on their eyesight. At the same time, you are missing out on a chance to form a bond with them if they are holed up in the corner staring at gadgets.
I remember when I was a child, how I’m always excited to go to the store to buy more accessories for my dolls. So when I have a daughter on my own, I was excited to look for the best play kitchen for toddler since I notice her love for cooking with me.
You might think that using toys like play kitchens are only just for playing. But did you know that play pretend is beneficial for your child’s development? Allowing them to practice their imagination is going to be useful in adulthood.
Remember that every day, you need to visualize and solve problems. At the same time, you have to develop good communication skills to understand different tasks and people. Creativity is more than just for leisure, and it is important for the demands of daily life.
If you think about it, play pretend hones your child’s ability to find the connections between things. Children must learn how a toy can represent a character or object that’s fitting for his/her narrative. Compared to other activities like sports, they are not limited to follow the rules set by adults.
You get to bond with your child while also avoiding the risks that come with the overuse of gadgets. However, I know how difficult it is to encourage kids to play pretend if you’re competing with their beloved phone and tablet. On the bright side, it’s actually easy to reignite their interest with imaginative and creative play.
How Can You Encourage Your Child to Play Pretend
Get Down on Their Level, Literally and Figuratively
While it’s unrealistic to completely get rid of screen time, you can gently ease your child into lessening their usage. If your child already has different activities, including school, then the addition of creative play will distract them from the need to use gadgets.
For me, the best way to encourage pretend play is by playing with your child. Some parents love it, but some might feel uncomfortable playing like a child. However, you might surprise yourself when you enjoy “cooking” with your little one in a play kitchen.
If you’re just introducing the concept of pretend play, don’t be afraid to sit on the floor or get face-to-face with your child. This makes the environment less overwhelming because your child feels connected with you. And of course, he/she can mimic your gestures as well. On the contrary, meeting your child halfway will also help you discover more about his/her interests and the way he/she thinks.
Make it Easy
According to CuteLittleDarling, one of the significant advantages of creative play is that it is open-ended. Unlike other activities like games and sports, your child is the one who decides the rules and concepts of his/her game. Therefore, make sure that you start with toys or theme that are simple yet effective in grabbing your little one’s attention.
At first, it might excite you to introduce different ideas at once. But remember that children might get discouraged or bored if they feel overwhelmed. If the theme is easy to repeat, your child will learn it fast and enjoy it better.
If your child enjoys helping out in the kitchen, a set of play kitchen with his/her favorite theme can kickstart his/her interest in trying it out. And if the toys aren’t complex to use, it will also be easier for him/her to create a narrative and expand his/her creativity.
Inspire Them to Play
Discover your inner child when you play with your little one. While the concept of play pretend is simple, it might not immediately get your child’s interest. You have to give them an idea of how to use simple toys.
For example, you can demonstrate how a toy symbolizes an object or character. It might feel corny to pretend enjoying a toy hamburger or to talk to a stuffed animal, but toddlers are more keen on trying new things if their mom or dad is doing it. Try to observe which toys are the ones your child likes using more, and over time, you’ll notice a pattern on what scenarios he/she loves doing. Afterward, you can follow your child’s concept and let him/her lead the scene of the play.
Consider Their Interests
As I have been repeating throughout this article, it is important that your child is already interested in the theme of the toys. This might mean getting a set based on their favorite cartoon or toys that are reminiscent of the activities they love, like cooking or dress-ups.
After this, it’ll be much easier to follow his/her lead because you can notice his/her enthusiasm over certain parts of the act. It might mean being his/her visitor in a tea party, or you might be a student while he/she is a teacher. Regardless, what you’re actually doing might serve as an inspiration later on in his/her life. Who knows? You might be reigniting his/her love for cooking or science.
Keep it Exciting
To avoid boredom, it’s only right to keep the theme of the play exciting and different. Your child might even be the one to suggest which toys he/she would like to have next. If not, you can introduce other pretend actions that are similar to the current theme.
If you start with playing as vehicle drivers, then next time you can pretend you are the mechanics. However, don’t be afraid to introduce a completely different setting. Perhaps your child has an undiscovered interest. Bring him/her to the toy shop with you and both of you can talk about the scenarios you can start once you got home.