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The Many Benefits of Pretend Play

Updated on March 22, 2012

Do you love to watch your children dress up in costumes and pretend play? On a daily basis, I have a variety of characters - superheroes to real life heroes - roaming throughout my house. It never occurred to me the many benefits and life skills that my children are gaining through their pretend play.

Who knew dressing up as a policeman or fireman taught my kids problem solving skills or that pretending to be Bumblebee, a prominent leader of the Autobots, promoted leadership skills? Not me - but through some research I realized that pretend play for young children has so many benefits that provides valuable skills and lessons needed later on in life.

As parents, we all should encourage our children to pretend play to promote the following valuable benefits:

Link from Zelda
Link from Zelda | Source

Pretend Play Stimulates Creativity Skills

We probably have every known boys dress up costume in a huge storage bin in the closet. We got superheroes, cartoon characters, video game characters, real life heroes - you name it, we got it. The thing that always makes me laugh is when my boys think outside the box and create their own outfit.

For example, last Christmas my husband received the Zelda Wii game and my oldest son's love for the main character, Link, was born. He ran in his bedroom, pulled out a green shirt and pants, grabbed the knight shield and sword, and topped it off with a Santa hat. I was stunned with his creativity and the fact that he did not ask anyone for help creating his outfit. Pretend play encourages children to explore their imagination and constantly stimulates their creativity.

Meet our Sheriff
Meet our Sheriff | Source

Pretend Play Promotes Leadership Skills

Many people might think having a policeman hanging out at your house everyday sounds like a bad thing. But in our house, my five year old son is always the sheriff or chief of police commanding his deputies to go and track down the bad guys. He runs around coordinating his police squads into various spots of the house and shouts out his detailed plan of action to take them down.

If you knew my son at all, you would know that he is a little on the quiet side and it always takes him awhile to warm up to new people and new situations. But when he takes on the role of police chief, he is quite the leader and will impress you with his take charge attitude. Pretend play helps him to promote those valuable leadership skills that he will be able to use later on in life.

My Heroes - Mario and Luigi
My Heroes - Mario and Luigi | Source

Pretend Play Enhances Problem Solving Skills

As the only female in this household, I always get the pleasure of being Princess Peach captured by the horrible Bowser. Only the brave Mario and Luigi are brave enough to save me from this evil villain.

My boys seem to always come up with an elaborate plan on the best way to set me free. They usually have a lot of obstacles to get through including those pesky mushrooms, flying turtles, and the fire throwing snapping plants.

In the end, all these problems are solved by my sons throwing fireballs to defeat their enemies and Princess Peach is safely carried back to the castle.

Pretend play enhances their problem solving skills and will definitely be beneficial to the many obstacles they will face throughout their lives.

Arrr Mateys!
Arrr Mateys! | Source

Pretend Play Increases Language Skills

Around age 3, my oldest son became totally obsessed with pirates. He was always running around wearing his pirate outfit complete with a hat, crazy eye patch, and that all important sword. He walked the walk and talked the talk. Jumping out from behind the couch, he would yell "Arrr Mateys!" I couldn't even tell you the number of times I was told to "Walk the Plank!"

Without this kind of pretend play, my son would have no idea about these words or their meaning. Whether he was a pirate, policeman, or cowboy, my son would take his pretend play to a whole new level completely absorbed in the language while increasing his range of vocabulary words.

Promotes Confidence and Social Skills

No matter what character either of my sons are pretending to be, there is one thing that remains constant. While they are pretend playing, they are always that leader who is never afraid of anything. They walk around the house extremely confident that they will overcome their obstacles and find the perfect solution to every problem.

I have watched them pretend play with other children and it always amazes me how the whole group gets along and how they each enjoy pretending to be their favorite character. Through my observations, I am a firm believer that pretend play promotes confidence in children and teaches them valuable social skills while role playing within a group of friends.

Benefits of Pretend Play at Home and at Preschool

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Encourage Your Children to Pretend Play

No matter if you have a storage bin full of pretend play dress up clothes or not, always encourage your children to pretend play. Help them to create their favorite characters with everyday clothes and imaginary props. Do not force or dictate the plot of the pretend play but do help them along if they find themselves stuck within the plot and need help.

As you can see, the many benefits of pretend play will teach them valuable life skills and lessons that will help them in school and throughout their adult life.


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    • profile image

      Wiseman 3 years ago

      That's an astute answer to a tricky quitoesn

    • profile image

      Tracy 3 years ago

      Slam dunkin like Shaquille O'Neal, if he wrote inaivmftore articles.

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      Oh wow four brothers! Bet you all had lots of fun! Thanks so much Jackie for stopping by and commenting!

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      Thanks rebecca! I couldn't agree with you more! Thanks for stopping by!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This was fun. Reminded me of dressing up my four younger brothers when we were kids and I was second mom oldest. Up/over.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Such a great reminder of what parents and teachers need to promote. Pretend play is crucial for developing young minds. Parents need to read this! Voted up and shared!

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 6 years ago from Normandy, TN

      Thank you so much tarajeyaram! I wish more parents encouraged it too. It is so much fun watching your children becoming their favorite characters and seeing how they react to the plot of their own story. Appreciate you reading and leaving your comment!

    • tarajeyaram profile image

      tarajeyaram 6 years ago from Wonderland

      Great hub. Imaginative play is the best! Like you said it builds character, strength, language skills, and leadership skills. It is wonderful in many ways. I would more parents would encourage this. I see more and more kids with iPad and video games. Thank you for posting this hub.