Remember when you were a kid, and your days were full of pretend play? Those good old days were about much more than just having fun.
Pretend play marks a major step in development. It helps children develop creative thinking and problem-solving, strengthens social skills, and beefs up communication. It lets them "try on" new roles and explore different ways of looking at the world, building empathy and imagination.
It’s also a way for children to deal with situations and problems that concern them. A child can pretend to give her doll a shot and say, "This won't hurt too much," helping to overcome fear of going to the doctor.
As children grow and their imaginations get richer, the list of benefits goes on. Kids who create imaginary friends have been shown to have greater social competency, better self-perception, and better “other-centered” perspective-taking skills later in life than those who don’t have such friends. This “other-centeredness” helps their ability to understand the intentions and motivations of others, a very useful skill for successful social relationships.
As they play, children transform the everyday, explore the unknown, and rehearse roles for the future. Imaginative play is so empowering – it can help shape a child for a lifetime.
Article content is based on research by Dr. John Medina. Dr. John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He is an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine and author of the best sellers, Brain Rules and Brain Rules for Baby.