Capes and Costumes, 6 reasons to encourage pretend play

Little boy in batman cape

Do you remember when you were little and you could do anything? I mean absolutely everything was possible! I, personally, just knew that I could fly with my umbrella just like Mary Poppins; so when it was windy outside I would run out and jump as high as I could so the wind could catch the umbrella and take me up into the sky. I’m sure the neighbors were charmed watching a little red-haired girl jumping around her backyard with an umbrella trying to fly.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that your kids all have a propensity for capes, princesses, and super heroes because a cape doesn’t mean super hero it just means power to fly. As we get older the need to pretend dies and we no longer need or even want a cape. However, we do still dream and it’s important to see ourselves obtaining those dreams (maybe we should pursue our dreams in a cape…), and that is what helps our children be successful adults when we encourage them to pretend, dress up, and be more than they are.

6 Reasons you Should Encourage Dressup and pretend
  1. Imagination allows children to approach life with creativity and creative thinking as adults.
  2. Empathy. By creating a space for pretend children will take on another person's persona and when they do that they are more able to empathize and imagine how that person would feel in certain situations.
  3. Empowerment entitles a child to be a grownup and gives them a sense of control. Children do like to feel like they are in control. Parents and caregivers are constantly telling them what to do, how to do it, keeping them on a schedule they didn't ask for, school where there are rules they need to follow. Pretend allows them to be in control of their lives and the freedom to create their own world.
  4. Perseverance believe it or not children will work harder and concentrate harder if they are pretending to be a superhero! The lessons they learn while pretending to be more then what they think they are actually enables them to do more then they think they can (kind of like positive thinking).
  5. Working together and cooperation. When pretending with others kids learn how to negotiate roles, take turns, create a string of events that they all participate in. This is an amazing lesson for them without it being officially taught by a grownup.
  6. Face fears. By role playing children can face their fears fearlessly and work out their emotional struggles themselves by utilizing pretend to be brave and problem solve. Pretend gives them the ability to figure out how to approach their own emotional struggles.

Besides the benefits mentioned above, pretend can also give adults a way to escape themselves if we only allow ourselves to let go and play pretend with our children. Let them control the game, set the rules, and you get to relax and let them tell you how things are going to go for once. This is healthy and such a learning process for adults. Playing pretend with our kids we can learn about their emotional health just by how they communicate their thoughts, and observing their reactions.