Do you remember what it was like to be a child, to image and play? As adults, you seem to lose the ability to pretend and imagine.
However, I don’t think you ever really forget. Instead, you do things in a different way. All in our heads rather than acting it out. You still dream! You read, you write and you create. You just have the reality of the real world to keep working so playing pretend is not something you have the time to do.
Children also have better connectivity with their sub-conscious minds, where as our brain expands with development and experiences it creates complex neural pathways, thus losing the connection to you sub-conscious.
Why do they imagine and play?
It is all part of learning, growing up and healthy child development. It often reflects what children have in their minds or gives them the opportunity to explore the world from different perspectives. By watching and copying people they learn language and behaviour.
By creating an imaginary friend a child has the opportunity to explore friendship without the uncertainty of another’s behaviour or risking the friendship. Or pretending to be a dog offers the opportunity to work out how to communicate without speaking.
You give a child a new toy that comes in a large box. You can be sure you will find the child playing with the box, not the toy. It is a blank canvas and the opportunity to let their imagination go wild. Unrestrictive and full of possibilities that us adults don’t always see.
Social skills are developed as they have an opportunity to express feelings and learn to cope with them as they learn to play with others around them.
How can you help them imagine and play?
You can help them imagine and play by showing them how things work, but let them experiment if they want to.
Give them an empty box to play with and encourage them to play with it in many different ways.
Make things fun for them; play and do things that they like doing.
Actively encourage creativity and learn how to see the world from their point of view.
Create role playing scenarios for them to play together or you can play with them.
They need to make sense of the world they live in by acting out situations before they happen allowing them to cope with real life.