“I’ll be Superman, and you can be Batman.”
“How about we build a castle for a dragon?”
“Let’s use our dolls to act out the Little Mermaid!”
Whether dreaming up and acting out storylines for animal kingdoms or medieval times, imaginative play has been a source of children’s enjoyment for generations.
It makes sense--the ability to create, share, and act out stories is part of what makes us human.
However, imaginative play serves several other essential functions beyond entertainment.
It’s also a great way to develop two important qualities that help children grow up to be well-adjusted adults: self-confidence and social skills.
Imaginative Play and Self-Confidence
Self-confidence is the essential ingredient needed for children to develop into individuals that don’t shy away from trying new things, taking risks, and taking initiative to solve problems.
In the first few years of life, children develop a sense of confidence by learning to complete tasks on their own--such as rolling over, sitting up, eating, and taking their first steps.
As they grow older, interactions and relationships with peers and adults play a more significant role in how their self-confidence develops.
When you give your children the opportunity to be whoever they want to be via pretend play and accept them for it, they receive a boost to their sense of self-esteem and are encouraged to be who they want to be in “real life.”
Additionally, giving your children the power to create storylines and show appreciation for them also has a hand in developing their self-confidence.
This experimentation and validation gives children a sense that their creative abilities are valuable and enjoyable for others.
What happens if children lack self-confidence? Unfortunately, they will be more likely to...
- Not participate--in school, with friends, and in other settings.
- Allow themselves to be treated poorly and may not stand up for themselves.
- Avoid challenges and give up easily.
No parent wants their children to adopt the above traits, so finding ways to build up their confidence is key.
Imaginative Play and Social Skills
Imaginative play also teaches children how to have healthy social interactions by giving them opportunities to practice communication, problem solving, and empathy.
It’s natural for young children to see things through their own egocentric point of view, but through maturation and cooperative play, your child will begin to understand the feelings of others.
With the various scenarios created via imaginative play, the representation of multiple perspectives occurs naturally.
More specifically, imaginative play helps them develop “theory of mind,” an awareness that one’s thoughts may differ from those of other people, and that other people can hold a variety of other perspectives.
If children lack these social skills, they are more likely to have negative interactions with others, struggle to make friends, and become isolated.
How to Encourage Imaginative Play
If your child is just entering school, there’s no time like the present to encourage imaginative play so he’ll have the necessary skills for an enjoyable experience in the classroom.
Telling stories to your children before bedtime or providing them with toys that can be used as creative props are ways to encourage this type of play.
From wooden animals to dolls, toys keep children creatively entertained for hours as they dream up and act out a variety of storylines.
For example, our wooden Noah’s Ark toy includes a variety of animals for children to act out the age-old story, or come up with their own storyline.
It’s always fun to have mom or dad involved too! Being involved in pretend play with your child can be a good way for you to model the kinds of behaviors you hope to instill in her as she grows.
Provide your child with more opportunities for creative and pretend play and join our VIP list. You’ll have access to special discounts and opportunities to receive FREE toys.