Mr. Z loves to play pretend! While he has lots of toys I would say he mostly has dress-up play clothes. Since he was about two years old he has loved to put together the craziest outfits to pretend he is all different kinds of wild characters. From a cowboy-fish to a monster-ninja he has a wild imagination of characters he can create in his mind using his pretend play clothes.
To facilitate this post we were sent the Reversible Spider/Bat Hood & the Reversible Spider/Bat Cap from GreatPretenders.ca.
Children learn by imagining and doing. The process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas. Dress-up play is vital to a child’s development. According to licensed child psychologist Dr. Laurie Zelinger, “It fosters the imaginative processes, and allows for play without rules or script. Dress up allows for experimentation, role play and fantasy.”
Five Benefits of Pretend Play
Social and Emotional Skills
Dress up allows for experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. Through cooperative play, children learn societal rules such as how to take turns, share responsibility, and creatively problem-solve. Character play means that the child is “walking in someone else’s shoes” and it encourages teamwork along with an interest in peers. The child also learns to negotiate which helps teach the important moral development skill of empathy. Since children see the world form their own point of view, cooperative play helps them understand the feelings of others.
When children engage in pretend play, you will hear words and phrases you never thought they knew. Pretend play requires children to invent and tell stories and since almost all children narrate their pretend play experiences, they train their minds to transform ideas into words. Children usually mimic words and ideas from parents, teachers, daycare or what they hear on TV. This repetition builds vocabulary and helps kids visualize what they say, especially when adults offer feedback to help kids better understand the words they use. This also helps with grammar – they may not know the rules but they are training themselves to speak like adults. This also helps make the connection between spoken and written language — a skill that will later help them to read.
Young kids typically have little self-control. During pretend play, children have to take a role and play within those boundaries, especially when other kids are involved. Studies show that children control their impulses significantly better during pretend play than at other times. Did you ever wonder why parents often make up a game to get their children to eat their vegetables or finish chores? Transforming an unappealing task into a make-believe game is a popular trick among clever parents and educators.
Problem Solving Skills
Pretend play also provides your child with a variety of problems to solve. Whether it’s the logistics of sharing toys or a pretend problem the children are escaping from, the child calls upon important cognitive thinking skills that he will use in every aspect of his life, now and forever. Role playing games lead children to face situations that far exceed kids’ real-life experiences. Children work out confusing, scary, or new life issues. Through these role plays, children become more comfortable and prepared for life events in a safe way. Children often use pretend play to work out more personal challenging life events too, whether it is coping with an illness in the family, the absence of a parent or divorce, or a house fire. Although kids may not always act logically during tough pretend dilemmas, the very process of problem solving becomes habitual. By practicing problem solving in an artificial environment, kids are better prepared to think of creative solutions to their own real-life problems
By giving your child complete control in their pretend world and accepting them as a silly character, you are enhancing their self-esteem. While they use their own initiative to develop story lines, their creative imagination to expand stories and their own personality to choose a character they enjoy, you are enhancing their self-esteem by allowing them complete power in the world & enjoying it with them. Take for example superheroes. Considering the thrill children get out of pretending to be a grown-up, it’s no wonder that they’re also crazy about mimicking the most powerful version of adults: superheroes. Pretending to be Batman or Wonder Woman allows a toddler to feel brave and invincible, which helps them develop self-confidence. Similarly, all that running and leaping keeps them active and builds strength, balance, and coordination.
I used to get such a kick out of watching the kids pretend play. Especially when they didn’t know I was watching. Such imaginations they have when young!
Melissa Shirley says
I have always kept my sons Halloween costumes and he has them in his toy box. He has always loved to put them on and play like he is Spiderman, Superman etc. He is 16 now and all those costumes were donated to my little cousin who loves to play with them too.
Dorothy Hubbard says
This is so right on, this is a path way to future endavors.
Sandra Watts says
I think it is good for pretend play. I got my grand kids masks and capes. They love them.
Deborah Caudill says
My son is 25 now, but as a child he loved to wear his old Halloween costumes all year long. I saved them all until he outgrew them. He wore them to the grocery store and almost everywhere except for school.
denise low says
I can remember when I was young and pretended that I had a best friend named Sally.
To this day, my 8yo loves to dress up & I encourage it!!!
ronni lashbrook says
I think there are way more tan 5 benefits of pretend play, but you hit on the really important ones. This was a great read. thanks.
I learned this when my twins were little. See, they were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and we had to teach them how to pretend play. They have learned so much and come so far!!
what a great idea
Katie Ellis says
I see the children at my daycare job pretend play everyday. I love watching them use their imaginationas they play.
Nena Sinclair says
My grandson dresses up in superhero costumes all the time and my granddaughter in Disney princess dresses! I think it’s a wonderful way to get a child’s imagination going!
Megan Clifton says
This is wonderful! I can see how it benefits children to pretend play. I always felt that letting the imagination run wild and allowing them to pretend as much as possible was the best thing you could do for a kid.
amanda mcmahon says
I think we sometimes force too much on our kids when they should be playing, having fun and discovering.
Dorothy Teel says
Oh how much I miss this with my grandchildren they are all older now, and instead of fairy princesses and ballarinas, and other dress up outfits and they would play like they were ballarinas, to their own music now they pretend to be rock singers and have a ball. Pretend plays allows a child to express themselves, grow in different areas of their lives and practice acting. fun
Lynn Mathieu says
My boys love to pretend play and my oldest still does at 9yrs old,he likes to use the halloween costumes all year long or a bead sheet for a cape!
Renee S says
My granddaughter is the same way…she had several princess dresses and loves to wear them. She wears them more than she wears regular clothes! She has the shoes, tiaras, necklaces, rings, etc.
Jayne Townsley says
Play based education is so undervalued! It is much better for children…and even adults….to learn by actually experiencing an activity.
Mary Czerczyk says
I have a nephew that loves to dress up in his gladiator costume. He has such and imagination. I think this type of play is so much more healthy for kids.
When I was a kid we did “pretend” play daily. I was always Wonder Woman. It thought me a lot. It also encouraged me to be outside, and active. That alone is a valuable lesson.
Kristi D says
I love watching my son start to do pretend play! He always asks “can we be something?” So cute!!!
Coline T. says
Really cute! 🙂
Joanne Gregory says
Pretend play is really one of the basics of childhood playtime! Thanks for the in depth review!
Sue M. says
I always love and support pretend play for kids to help them be more creative and encourage their imaginations; I notice kids actually have a lot more fun doing this than with with a big fancy toy! 🙂
I love having my children your their imaginations, it teaches them creativity and dress up gives them the chance to be another person just for a day like dressing up as a fairy princess every little girls dream come true.
Henn Nõgel says
My grandkids love to pretend play 🙂 Always such a fun, not only at Halloween 🙂
Kimberly B says
Pretend play is so important. So many children now days do not know how to use their imagination. They have a constant need to be entertained because they do not know how to do it on their own.
Cathy Jarolin says
It is so true. When children use their imagination their vocabulary builds. It is such a learning experience for them. Thankyou for sharing all the ways Children will benefit from Pretend play~~
Jo-Ann Brightman says
I never realized how many different skills were used when kids dressed up. There certainly are a lot of benefit to this type of play
This is a great reminder! Worlds better than kids sitting in front of a screen!
Deanne Patterson says
Pretend play is so important for children’s imagination. They have so much fun with it.
Melissa George says
its an amazing way to keep the kids entertained and happy. i love these masks and coustumes. My 5 year old will love it so much as it will keep her self esteem high and she will enjoy it.
Candra Evans says
Hubby and I are still trying for our first child, and I feel like it’s going to happen soon. 🙂 I’m so glad I found this site to help me prepare for mommyhood!
Sherry Martindale says
My granddaughter LOVES for us to role play and act out scenes from her favorite Disney movies. She especially loves to play makeup artist and pretends she is a karate expert as well.
My girls used to play dress up all the time, we have a large tub of clothes to this day, and they are in college now! I just loved watching them.
Ashley C says
Awh! These pictures are so cute! I remember pretend play as a child. Loved playing house and school with my friends. Didn’t necessarily play dress up, but always enjoyed pretend play.
judy maharrey says
I love watching kids pretend play! Sometimes you can be surprised at what they know.
Nena Sinclair says
I kids are grown up now, but I have 2 young grandchildren and I encourage them to be creative and imaginative when it comes to play!
Cherie Varrin says
I love watching my kids play pretend! Some of the things they come up with are funny and cute!
Sandy Weinstein says
when i was younger used to dress up in my mother’s clothes, i even had some of her evening clothes remade when i got older. my mother was a real clothes horse and love clothes. i wore the top of one of her outfits, her hat, and the play high heels as frankie of frankie and jonnnie and won a big steak dinner for the entire family. my mother was the best. i use to hang out in her closet and go thru her clothes, she had a big, big walk in closet.
Carol L says
I loved watching mine dress up when they were little. It’s amazing to see how creative they are.thanks for your post and the adorable pics. 🙂
Christina Craig says
A beautiful mind is a terrible thing to waste. Let their imagination run wild. Be creative. Let them grow. They will turn out to be remarkable people. 🙂
belinda bell says
I love the henry hugglemoster
Amy Green says
Why are people so hard on kids wanting to pretend play? What do they think their favorite actors do, for a living? I fondly remember using red, yellow, and blue construction paper so that I could make accessories to play dress-up with, and pretend to be Wonder Woman!
I think pretend play is so amazing for kids to use their imaginations and stimulate their brains. I’ve seen my kids turn an empty box into a castle, a boat, a plane etc they spend hours having fun inventing stories and inventions. I love it
sandy weinstein says
when i was little i used to pretend play, dont have kids so just have my memories of pretend play wearing my mother’s clothes and heels. also when at the barn, we used to pretend to be horses, there was a lot of private owners at the barn where i rode and we used to spend our wkends and summers all day at the barn…i still do pretend to play with my dogs…i sing and dance with them.
Amber Ludwig says
Oooh we love pretend play so much!! My son loves to be the guys in his favorite movies!! Shrek is his fav lol!! Its too fun!! Im glad to hear it helps him develop too!!
What a wonderful post. I had no idea that pretend was so important to child development. Thank you for sharing this post.
Debbie Welchert says
I love watching my grandchildren pretend play. It’s so much fun to watch and listen to them. My youngest grandson really loves to pretend the most.
Christina Abrahamson says
This was a special time Pretend playing with my son when he was little. Very important…
Joni Mason says
I think pretend play is the most important form of play for children. It not only improves the skills you have listed, it also provides children an outlet for creativity. I love to watch my 4 year old grandson in his pretend play times, just yesterday he took a pad & pencil and wanted to “take my order” as though we were out to eat.
llen schull says
I agree pretend play is very important.
The kids in the family loves playing pretend! It makes them so creative and so innovative in their plays.
Gail Williams says
I am a Granny Nanny for many years. Pretend play was a major part of my being with my grandchildren 2 days a week, all day. My 2 granddaughters gained confidence and self esteem as they tried out different scenarios in the play they were doing.
Maria Luan Hechanova says
my little girls loves to wear princess dress.. Playing makes them learn a lot and explore..
Teresa (embracing the spectrum) says
I love pretend play with my children.
Dorothy Teel says
I think pretend play is very important for al of our children and grandchildren, it helps them develop coping skills, skills of truth or fiction, handle everyday fears and learning skills, and it also teaches them how to friend others , think it is great for children.
Linda Manns Linneman says
My grandchildren love to pretend play. I love that they can use their imagination in this way. Thank you so much for sharing
samantha ramos says
Playing pretend and self play is so important. We have always made sure our son has had plenty of costumes to run around the house in. He is so good at making up stories and self play now!
Lisa Ward says
My son used to pretend his was a nija turtle, he is now 29 and had a career and plays in band on the side.. Great article. .
Jaime E says
My kids do this all the time and have a chest full of costumes to play with. The best kind of play comes out of imagination.
Jessica Cyr says
I pretend play with my kids all the time , even getting involved with them as a parent with the pretend play is a fun activity , they enjoy every moment of it and it helps them develop.
Amy Green says
A lot of kids I’ve baby sat for love pretending to be their favorite characters. They will not only stay in costume, but in character! One way I played pretend when I was little was by using a package of construction paper. An example of my DIY craftiness? I’d use yellow, blue and red sheets to create Wonder Woman’s accessories!