How to Encourage Pretend Play

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pretend play coverIn the early Toddler months, your child should start to engage in “pretend play”. Pretend play is that awesome time when your child brings you imaginary cookies, plays with dolls (bathes, feeds, comforts) talks to toys, interacts and plays with toys approriatly etc…. Pretend play is a very important time in your child’s life and opens the door to many more imaginary opportunities later in life!

Pretend play should also be important to you!!! It helps with your child’s development, practices and teaches problem solving, teaches story telling, increases language (Especially adult world language- think, “Bye Daddy, I’m going to work”) and most of all….keeps them from getting bored!!!

For most children, pretend play comes naturally. But, for some, it does not! Children with disabilities or delays may have a harder time with pretend play. Not to mention, it is always a great idea to work with any children (delayed or not) on pretend play. It can help you help them work through fears, teach scenarios and rules…the sky is the limit!!!!


Try these simple tips to help your child work on their pretend play:

Stay out of it!

I know, this sounds weird and it can be very hard to stay out of their play! Don’t get me wrong, if your child asks you to play with them, by all means, play!!! But, if your child is in the middle of a game or activity that they are facilitating on their own…stay out of it! Watch to see where the play goes. Step in if needed for inappropriate play. ( Or again, if your child asks you to play a roll). This is a great time to learn about your child! What they are learning, thinking and hearing! You may even learn a little something about yourself! You may learn how your child perceives you or other adults. Maybe you’ll find out that you say no a little too much or maybe you use nicer, kinder words than you thought!

pretend play

Provide good opportunities (and tools!)

If your child is not engaging in frequent or  meaningful pretend play, check the toys you have provided!  Make sure you have plenty of open ended toys available. Think dress ups,  grown up items (play cell phones, lap tops, pretend food etc…)  and other toys that your child can imagine with. If your child starts to use a broom as a guitar or a horse…let it happen! And encourage it! Using an object as something that it isn’t is a great step in imaginary play! Don’t be afraid to be silly and use objects for toys yourself. Throw a bowl on your head and call it your bike helmet! See where it takes your child. Its fun, encouraging and hilarious!

Speaking of encouragement….

During pretend play, be your child’s biggest fan! Praise and encourage your child as they use their imagination. Just like you would any of the academic or intellectual achievements! If your child just cooked dinner for the whole family, tell him/her it was delicious! “Wow! You are a great cook! Daddy will really love this chicken!” Be supportive and encouraging while they explore!


Good Luck, Have fun, and let your imagination run wild!

xoxoHelp encourage pretend play in the tub! Another great place to play! To make it more successful try out this awesome toy storage bag by Huggaloo!!! 

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