My two-year-old daughter thinks a lot. She likes to understand everything, and when she is confronted with new experiences – that she can’t understand as well because they are new – she can become anxious or upset. Pretend play is one of the best tools we have found for helping her to conquer her fears. The set-up can be very simple – the cookies on the tray above, for example, were slices of “cake” for a pretend birthday party.
Sometimes we role-play real situations where she got upset or anxious, using toys to explore other ways of approaching with a problem. Other times we simply play something she enjoys – like hosting a birthday party – to help her calm down before something that we know is likely to make her feel more stressed out.
The power of pretend play is amazing – it provides a safe space to practice being more confident, as well as to face fears. Yesterday she was incredibly brave during a doctor’s visit – not even crying during a blood draw. We had read stories about visiting the doctor as preparation. When she came home, she and her siblings played doctor for a couple hours – exploring the new knowledge they had gained from the real-life experience of a doctor’s visit.
What do you see your children learn through pretend play?