Why Experienced Parents Often Pretend Play With Their Kids

While parents are ready to move mountains for their kids, experts say that sometimes just playing with them is more than enough. Despite all the pressure on moms and dads who have to take care of kids, a household, and still go to work, at times the best thing you can do for your child’s future is to stop and plunge into an imaginative world with your little one.

We at Bright Side know the importance of a good play session and we felt curious about the impact it can have on a kid’s life.

1. How to know when a kid is pretending while playing

The moment when your child takes a stick and pretends to be a fearless knight, they’re turning on their imagination and pretending. Adults may not notice how often kids are doing this: pretending to be a driver, building a rocket from old boxes, hosting a tea party with dolls. Every time a kid exhibits nonliteral behavior and does something for fun rather than for the sake of necessity, they are pretending while playing.

2. Pretend play helps to avoid behavior problems in the future.

The good news for parents is that researchers have found out that we can decrease the chances of kid’s behavioral problems in the future by pretend playing with them. Those mothers who didn’t have a chance to be involved in this kind of game were reporting difficulties with handling kids. So all the time spent in an imaginary world with your kids surely wasn’t wasted!

3. How pretend play develops as kids grow older.

Pretend play starts at the age of 18 months, when kids pretend that an item is something else. For example, a banana for adults might be a phone for kids. In their early preschool years, they switch to more complex pretend play that might not involve physical props and they begin to pretend with invisible objects. The most complex type of pretend play involves other kids and can last for days, or even weeks.

Caretakers can engage in the play regardless of the child’s age, so when your little one takes a banana and puts it to your ear, and says “ring, ring,” it would be nice if you could support this imaginary play by answering the call.

4. Our anxiety levels have a huge impact on play.

There’s no doubt that mental well-being of caretakers plays an important role. For example, the research showed that mothers who reported a high level of anxiety tend to be doing less pretend playing with their kids. And as we already know, pretend play is likely to prevent behavior problems in the future. So that’s another way that adult’s mental health influences kids and their behavior.

5. What are the other benefits of pretend play.

While for some people games might look like a waste of time, apart from having fewer behavioral problems, imaginary play brings many other benefits to a kid’s development. Experts say that parents who let their kids indulge in imaginary play might notice that it helps to boost cognitive, social, and even language skills.

Moreover, it’s an effective way for kids to acquire generic knowledge which they will be able to use in everyday life. For example, in an experiment, with the help of pretend scenarios about animals, kids were able to answer questions about animals they didn’t know existed. So parents might find it easier to teach kids about life just by playing with them.

6. How parents can encourage pretend play

While kids are born with a strong drive to play, we need to be careful, as too many toys can be overwhelming and might serve as a distraction, reducing playtime and quality. Apart from just taking part in pretend play, parents can encourage it by providing their kids with encouraging tools like costumes, play kitchens, spending time outdoors, and exposing them to new experiences.

What games do you usually play with your kids? When you were small, did you enjoy pretend play with your parents?

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