The Power Of Pretend
Parents World|Issue 72
The Power Of Pretend

Your child deserves to play on her own terms. We give you the lowdown on the various ways they can do so and unleash their imagination.

Few would dispute the point that children have an innate sense of creativity and imagination, and this is most evident when you observe them while they play; one moment they are pirates sailing their mean vessel (your sofa) on the high seas, and the next they are battling dinosaurs while feeding a doll in between. This aptitude for creativity is also noted by masters in the field like Albert Einstein, who famously said, “To stimulate creativity, one must develop the childlike inclination for play.”

Cardboard Kingdom

As parents and adults, our perception of creativity and imagination may be of a state that is elusive and often surfaces as an ‘a-ha’ moment which we cannot control or predict. As such, we lose sight of the ‘inclination’ when it comes to encouraging the creative side of our kids to flourish. Pablo Picasso observed that every child is an artist, and the problem lies in remaining as one when we grow up.

Play is to kids as work is to grownups – what looks like mindless fun are also moments spent developing important skills and critical thinking. According to Dr. Stephanie Carlson, an expert on childhood brain development at the University of Minnesota, kids spend as much as two-thirds of their time engaging in non-reality imaginative play. She also shared from her findings that practice in pretending helps children come up with alternative ways of being – and of seeing an issue – and results in more creativity and better problem-solving.

If you think that only “proper” toys and games like LEGO sets and Play-Doh help the little ones spark creativity, think again. Sometimes, unassuming everyday objects can provide them with hours of unbridled fun, exploration, and improvisation (an excuse for not throwing out that cardboard box or paper towel tubes). Here are some ways in which your little munchkins play and let their imagination go wild, some of which may surprise you. The best part? You can – and should – get involved too!

Getting Down And Dirty

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Issue 72