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Pretend Play Strengthens Sibling Relationships

Pretend play builds relationships that last a lifetime

I love watching my kids play together! Pretend play strengthens sibling relationships – I know from personal experience. Many of my fondest childhood memories involve playing with my siblings, and those memories help to maintain sibling bonds now that we are all grown up and live mostly far apart from one another. I suspect that something similar happens with only children who have a close childhood friend.

Sibling bonding through pretend play

So much happens while children play together! I have written about the benefits of creative play before. In addition to building confidence, language skills, emotional regulations, and social skills practice, pretend play builds relationship memories. Positive memories are required to sustain any relationship, and I want my children to be friends for life the way my siblings and I are friends for life.

Sibling relationships - and why kids need pretend play

You can encourage pretend play by making sure siblings have plenty of free time together. My kids also know that I always have chores waiting for children who are struggling to entertain themselves in a kind and friendly way – but most of the time they play naturally, without requiring that extra motivation.

My siblings and I created games that we returned to over and over, and I see my children doing the same thing. They continue to play games that include their imaginary friends, although these days I find them playing the roles of the imaginary friends or pretending that they are there rather than acting as if they are there. They play games based on books, usually the ones Emma is reading at the moment. They have a few scenarios that they enjoy exploring – pretend school and pretend traveling are two recurring themes that I also enjoyed exploring through play as a child. Looking after baby dolls is also a popular pastime – and another of my childhood favorites.

Kids grow up so quickly! I am grateful to have delightful memories from my own childhood, and I love watching the next generation create the same memories.

Do you have fond memories of pretend play with your siblings or friends as a child? What pretend play games do your kids most enjoy?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

14 thoughts on “Pretend Play Strengthens Sibling Relationships”

  1. I love watching my 3 year old son and 1 year old daughter play together. He loves to pretend to be a knight and she is the princess he has to save. Or he is a superhero and she is his sidekick. It’s very cute. Love these pics of your kids playing together. So endearing.

  2. You really should write a parenting book! Your way is so practical, effective, and joyful! You have me remembering back. For some reason we used to like to pretend we were orphans. I am laughing about it now because our parents were great and being an orphan sounds so sad. Not sure why this was fun!

  3. I loved playing school when I was a child although my brother didn’t love it. I was always the teacher. :) Currently, my kids are building a fort which has them quite occupied.

  4. Elisa | blissfulE

    Anna is so cute and smiley in these photos! It’s so nice to see younger ones incorporated in older siblings’ games. I love it when my kids play together, too. Each child enriches the play with his or her own personality and preferences.

  5. Natalie PlanetSmartyPants

    This is the thing that I miss for my “only” – a play partner! It’s awesome that your kids have such close bonds!

  6. My sibs are quite a bit older than me…but I think your right about it being the same with close friends. I imagine that’s why my best childhood girlfriend is like a sister to me today – all those shared memories of fun times together lost in a world of our own making.

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