The drama in your home should not be limited to the reality TV you (okay, I) binge watch once the babes go to bed. Dramatic and imaginary play is such an important developmental step for our kids, and helps them to develop social, verbal, and emotional skills.
They definitely don't know it, but imaginary play for kids is helping them with emotion regulation and empathy. It really is a full-time job for their little brains! When our kids are learning to act out different characters in different situations, they are able to express emotions like sadness, excitement, and shyness. By pretending to be different things, your child will start to understand what emotions are appropriate or expected in different situations. They'll start to translate this play into their own experiences.
Probably the most drastic emotional leap our kids make is learning empathy. Ever notice early on that your kids don't actually care that they just dumped yogurt all over your newly cleaned kitchen floor? Or that they don't seem to notice why it would upset you when they use their ugliest colored crayon to draw a masterpiece on your white walls. Yeah, it's pretty rude. But the thing is they can't help it! That's why imaginary play is so freaking awesome. Once your kids reach the age and developmental capacity for imaginary play (small signs between 18-24mo, clear imaginary play between 2-3yr), they start to put themselves into other's situations and try to understand how that person or character might feel. This is a great opportunity as a parent to introduce emotions into your everyday conversations with your babe, and you can definitely throw in some books that focus on emotions.
Another important thing is to give them toys that allow them to use their imagination to the fullest. FatBrain Squigz are the perfect basic pieces that let your children build castles, snap together a family, or make the Titanic. You may not be able to see it, but as long as they do, these colorful little cuties are helping them get the imagination job done!
When engaging in imaginary play with others, like playing dress up or kitchen with some cute little friends, your sweetie will begin to grasp the concept of taking turns. The funny (and sort of satisfying and frustrating) thing about toys is there's never enough of them to go around so that all the kids are happy at the same time. It's just not possible. So once our kids get thrown into the doctor dress-up clothes with their bestie and realize there's only one stethoscope, you might run into a tug-of-war. Say hello to your teaching moment, mama! Repeat after me: You get what you get and you don't throw a fit. Taking turns is a part of life. Sometimes you don't get to be the princess, and sometimes you'll have to be the frog. So when your little beauties are playing makeup with their adorable Little Cosmetics set, they'll just have to learn that there's only so many brushes to go around. Teach them that sharing is the sweet thing to do with their friends! Taking turns will teach them how to problem solve without needing your assistance. They'll learn to read a situation, and make changes to their behavior to make play fair for everyone playing. These social skills will only help them as they get older and transition into preschool and kindergarten.
Language development is huge when it comes to dramatic play. Your kid will start to use phrases or words when playing out certain scenes that you had no clue they even knew about! A lot of this will come from how you react to situations. You'll hear your babe say to their puppy dog, "Don't make a mess! That makes me sad," and wonder where the heck that came from. You, mama. It came from you.
The Plan Toys Pull Along Puppy and Snail will make your heart melt as your babe pulls them around to the beat of their own little story. Watch their imaginations go wild as they make up scenarios that they get into with these adorably simple toys.
Imaginary play helps our children understand which words or phrases are appropriate for certain situations. This will help them with that special little thing called empathy we were talking about earlier, you feel me? And why should the fun end when bath time starts?
Keep your babe's creativity going with Plan Toys Coastguard Boat or Submarine and watch them sail the open seas, get caught up in their bubbly waves, and search for sea animals at the bottom of the tub!