Help Encourage Pretend and Imaginary Play With Your Toddler

WP_20130109_029Who doesn’t like playtime?  It’s all about having fun and playing games, or it may look that way when you watch your toddler play.  However playing is hard work for toddlers.  As your little one plays with his toys, eats, plays with cups in the bath, pushes their car across the kitchen floor, they are also learning.  They are learning language skills, about people, science and math, as well as discovering everything their little body is capable of.  Oh, and don’t forget about creativity and imaginations.  Pretend play is essential to your toddler’s learning and development in so many different ways.

One might not think of pretend play and imagination as a milestone, but if you’re toddler hands you a block as a cookie or imaginary pie they made and asks you to eat it, they are making an extremely important leap in their development.  So what does pretend play teach your toddler?

Problem solving – Ever look at your toddler and wonder where all the energy comes from?  Their little minds are moving just as fast.  My daughter has a doll that she gets ready for bed every single night.  She looks for everything her doll needs to hit the sack next to her, or when she plays with her big sister. 

Self-esteem – When your toddler pretends to be the teacher, mom, dad, princess, or police officer they are putting him/herself in someone else’s.  My daughter pretends to be a princess all the time; you can instantly see her self-esteem get better.  Her head goes up and she has a princess walk that is to die for, but either way she’s playing a role that makes her feel good.

Speech – While they pretend play with dolls, phone, cars, or stuffed animals all that chattering you hear is awesome and only strengthening your toddlers vocabulary.

Pretend play is beneficial to our toddlers, what are some ways we can support pretend play?  Here are a few tips to help encourage pretend play with your toddler:

  • Keep containers of all sizes around – I don’t know why, but most toddlers love containers, boxes, and other fun items they can fill up or put stuff in.
  • Keep stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes around – some children love their stuffed animals and can really get into the pretend play with a group of stuffed animals.
  • Dress-up – Allow you’re little one to play dress up.
  • Paper, Pencils, crayons
  • Music
  • You can play too
  • Watch the clouds

There is just a few way to help you keep pretend play live.  It’s extremely beneficial and our job as parents to support out little ones as they learn and grow.  My daughter’s favorite pretend play is the phone.  Everything can be a phone; she talks to just about everyone too.  Now that she is getting older I can tell what she’s saying, but when she was young it was a little difficult.  Imaginary play is something we take very serious in our house, lol.  Okay we don’t take it so serious, but we have a whole lot of fun with it and I get to watch my toddler learn and grow while she’s having fun.  It’s absolutaly amazing how quickly chilren learn and grow, I love the fact that ehy have fun, can imagine almost anything, be totally happy, and learn all at the same time.

What’s your child’s favorite pretend play object or pretend activity?

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  1. says

    Love this!! I always encourage my 5 yr old to pretend & imaginary play. He’s the Power Rangers/Dino Dan kid. My daughter is a little more reserved but I will go all out no matter where we may be. I love to see the wheels spin’in in his head One real important fact you listed is the self esteem & how they put them selves in that role. We found my G’son, along with a few other preschool children, were being treated unfairly due to their ethnic background by me playing teacher, he was the student. Jenn thank you for all the work you do to bring us your blog. I just love visiting daily. This is one of my favorite blogs post so far. Awesome!!

  2. Maria Iemma says

    My granddaughter is now 2 1/2 and she loves to pretend that she is a princess and wears a tiara — adorable

  3. says

    You are so right! Pretend play is so important and for many kids with special needs, this is an area where they have deficits. I like your ideas to encourage the imagination. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Karen Hand says

    Thank you for your excellent article. As you say, it is healthy for a toddler to expand his/her horizons and to do so, sometimes it involves playing with a make believe friend. It’s healthy for the child.

  5. Carla Bonesteel says

    I had about 4 imaginary friends when I was young…My mother knew all of their names, and she would even talk to them, make them lunch, and let me blame stuff on them!!!

  6. lalaine hagler says

    that is sooo true. I remember when my daughter use to pretend to be a princess. Now she’s a teenager. My son who is 17-month old is slowly getting there. He loves watching was his dad is doing and in his own time he starts copying it.

  7. laurie damrose says

    Thats the best time of the day connecting with your kids and helping them grow in so many ways.