In a previous article, we discussed the benefits of being bored. When my kids are bored, they tend to fall back on pretend play or make-believe. A typical day for my kids during the summer involves playing house. Often in this game of house, my youngest son is the dad and my youngest daughter is the mom. They walk around telling their older siblings what to do, what to eat, and even when to sleep. While this pretend play may be fun, it is also very beneficial.
Perhaps the most seen benefit of pretend-play is creativity. While pretend-play typically starts out as following what they see in real life, it doesn’t take long for kids to go off script and start creating their own scenarios during this pretend play.
Make-believe teaches kids social skills in a safe environment. They are able to make decisions, enforce rules, and problem-solve when there is a dispute (because there are usually disputes on the best way to play). Make sure to give them the chance to resolve their disagreement on their own before jumping in. This opportunity is vital for when they encounter situations at school, work, or future relationships.
Another great benefit to make-believe is the ability to learn emotional regulation. In a study done at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, children were given negative events while pretend playing with their parents. This study “…hypothesized that children who demonstrated adaptive emotion regulation in pretend play and/or engaged in pretend play with parents would be more proficient at emotion regulation in a wider context.”Role-playing gives children the tools to navigate the real world. It is a great tool that parents can utilize with preschool kids.
Prepares Kids for School
Studies have proven that kids who play make-believe with their caregivers are more prepared for school. In two separate studies by Singer and Singer (1992, 2001), “researchers found that children who play with their caregivers in these imaginative ways make significant gains in readiness skills…” There are many ways to make learning and play fun. You can be chefs in a grand restaurant, a veterinarian taking care of animals, or let your child be the mom for awhile.
Whether it be house, school, veterinarian, or another pretend game. These opportunities to express themselves and “play a role” teaches them so many valuable life lessons.