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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pretend Play and Theory of Mind Have a Big Impact on Child Development

Pretend play isn't as simple as it seems. The act of pretending a brandished stick is a sword, or a rock held overhead is a plane may seem like rudimentary child enjoyment, but it’s much more. Your child wouldn't develop some critical skills if she didn't use her imagination. In fact, pretend play, theory of mind and child development go hand in hand.

Learning Social Skills

When a child engages in make-believe, she experiments with the social roles she’s familiar with in her own life. She might take on the role of the Mom while playing house, giving her a chance to walk in someone else's shoes and learn empathy for her own mother. Pretend play also often includes cooperation with others. This teaches children to take turns, share, problem solve and be creative.

Increasing Emotional Skills

"Theory of mind" is the awareness that not everyone has the same opinions and that people see the world from different perspectives. This important emotional understanding increases with pretend play as children make-believe they're someone else. Imaginative play also builds self-esteem as children test their limits and see what they’re truly capable of.

Developing Language Skills

It’s difficult to play with others without using language. If you listen in on your child playing pretend with friends, you’re bound to hear words and phrases you didn’t even know she knew. Creative play also often requires participants to reenact a story, which further helps language skills develop.

Practicing Problem-Solving Skills

Whether two children want to play the same role or a group of friends needs to devise rules for a new game, pretend play calls for problem-solving skills. This becomes important for future play, as well as important situations later on in life.

Encouraging Pretend Play

Over the past 75 years, numerous researchers and theorists have pinpointed the values of pretend play and the impact it has on child development. It’s clearly important to encourage fantasy games and creative play to help your child grow into a happy, thriving young adult.

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