Child's Play: Getting Your Child To Use Their Imagination

by Jill Brennan

Every small child loves to play. "Playing Pretend", or role playing, can not only be educational, but also one of the cheapest games a child can play. Creative play such as role playing can not only teach your child about the world, but can also teach you a lot about your child.

What Are the Benefits of Role Playing With Your Child?

1. Playing with your child allows you to better understand your child. Sure, you may always be playing the same thing, but this also can give you insight into how your child thinks and what he or she is feeling. If your child is going through a stressful situation (such as a divorce, a new baby, a death, a move, etc.), pretending may give you insights into how to help your child cope with change. Children rarely "pretend themselves" into stressful situations they have no control over.

2. Role Playing games give your child opportunities for mental growth and learning. Children can experiment and explore new ideas and new ways of thinking in a safe environment that can be ended at any time.

3. Pretending builds problem-solving skills. While role playing, children can be placed into safe situations that require them to make choices and decisions. When you are playing right next to them, they know they are safe. Many parents, teachers, and law-enforcement agencies encourage you to role-play more dangerous situations to teach your children how to react (Stranger Danger).

4. Role playing encourages self-expression and helps them cope with their feelings. For the most part, try to allow your child to determine what goes on during play. Allow them to be the directors and script writers.

5. Pretending fosters their imagination. Television and video games rob children of imagination and independent thinking. Imagination helps us set goals and gives us the hope needed to achieve them.

You and your child can come up with many more ideas for creative play than just the five mentioned. If there is a certain event about which you would like to tell your child (such as Mommy and Daddy's upcoming split, stranger danger, the new baby, the passing of a pet, etc.), why not use this method? You may learn something you didn't know through your children's self expression, plus you involve them in the problem solving. Above all, your child will treasure the time you spend with him or her.

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