For parents who have jobs, grown-up friends, and adult interests, it can be hard to step into the shoes of our children. But if we want them to get the most out of their lives, step into their boots we must.
Over the years, researchers have spent a lot of time thinking about why children engage in make-believe, and the benefits they may derive from it. As science has progressed, it’s become clear that make-believe is a lot more complicated than first imagined. It is now thought that make-believe is an essential tool that children use to prepare themselves for experiences that they have not yet had. As a result, it can be a great way to supercharge their development. So what do you need to know as a parent?
Use The Right Props
Let’s say that you want your child to start becoming more independent when it comes to food. Investing in a wooden play kitchen would be a great way to get them used to the idea of actually making their food. Sure, it wouldn’t be the real thing. But unlike in a real kitchen, your child would have far more freedom to explore the world of food in a safe and controlled way. You could even get them to pretend to follow a recipe and serve it up to friends (or teddy bears).
Of course, you don’t just have to focus on cookery. There are all sorts of different concepts you could explore, from going to work to building a castle.
Get Them To Build Something
It doesn’t matter what your child builds: a fort, a rocket, a treehouse - they all engage the creative and spatial areas of the brain. So as a parent, it’s a good idea to provide the raw material they need. Although it might sound expensive, building things like forts and rockets can be very cheap, often using stuff you already have or were going to throw out. Old boxes, plastic bottles, cushions, and so on can get them started and making something exciting. You’ll often find that once you’ve provided the raw materials and prepared yourself for the mess, the kids will use their imagination and get on with things themselves.
Put On A Show
It’s a myth to think that it’s only kids who play make-believe. Adults, of course, do it too in film, art, and music.
One way to get kids started, according to Care, is to get them to put on a show. Rather than coming up with ideas on the spot, which can be a little haphazard, creating their shows allows children to plan ahead. They can come up with plot twists, characters and exciting storylines that the people watching will love. It can be something as simple as a 5-minute puppet show or a quick sketch with a sibling.
As a parent, you can also help get into the world of make-believe through role play. Your child can then explore you as a different character. Perhaps you could be a busy firefighter, a troll under a bridge, or a scarecrow. You might want to skip accountant though.
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