Does “pretending” play help children grow up?

No matter which kindergarten you go to, you are bound to meet a child who pretends to be someone else. This type of game, specific to childhood, is universal. And for some as a baby gets older, he or she will outgrow this.

Research has shown a link between playfulness and creativity in children, understanding others and socializing.

As a psychologist interested in these questions, having often had the opportunity to attend kindergarten classes, I have met many children for whom imitating a fictional friend or a character was more than just entertainment. . These activities often reflect their concerns.



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So how do these games benefit children? Do they teach their society to be more efficient in their behavior? Or children who are already socially comfortable who are involved in such games?

Thinking from different perspectives

Playing allows children to explore the world from different angles to behave like others and to project themselves to two ways of approaching things at the same time, which children find difficult to do in two different ways. In other situations 6

So it is easy to imagine how it helps a child to develop his skills for living in a society. For example, if she is playing when she is a mother, she has to imagine how she feels when her baby cries or does not behave well. If he pretends to be a family dog, he must invent a way to communicate with the “master” without using words.

In general, children between the ages of three and five begin to discover imaginary friends.
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The child who makes an imaginary friend explores all the subtleties of friendship through this game – without dealing with the unpredictability of the other person’s behavior or endangering the true friendship.

The child who pretends to be a superhero can imagine achieving ambitious goals like helping others and brave rescue. He then feels an energy that is not possible to feel otherwise when one is still in infancy.

The fine art of negotiation

When children play these imaginative games, they must clearly consider their own behavior and the signals they send, the message they want to convey to others. And they must pay attention to the information emitted by their comrades and learn to decipher it.

This type of communication also happens in the real world, but you need to pay more attention to all these details to adjust the game properly in the imaginary space. Children are then employed at a sophisticated level of communication, discussion, understanding and cooperation.



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Some research shows that children participating in these simulated social situations spend almost as much time discussing play situations and settings as they actually play. These experiences will be useful for those who need to manage the rules of the joint game around them, share group work in high school, or evaluate the benefits of the first job offer.

Distinguish between cause and effect

Studies that link role-playing to all of these positive outcomes create correlations. In other words, while a socially intelligent and competent child is more likely to be interested in role-playing, it is not essential that role-playing makes the child more socially clever. It is also possible that another variable, such as parental education, plays on the links woven between the interest in these fantasy games and the fact that they get along well with others.

Angeline Lillard, a leading expert in the field, reviewed dozens of studies with her colleagues and found little evidence to support the notion that it was the role-playing game itself that brought about positive developments.

On the contrary, these authors argue, pretending can be a way to get there. Clearly, role-playing and positive outcomes may be supported by other factors, such as the presence of supportive adults, games that focus on positive and social themes, and children’s own character traits such as their intelligence and their sociality.

However, researchers quickly pointed out that children love to play and are motivated to do so. Adults who want to encourage backwardness, empathy, learning to discuss and collaborate will benefit by thinking about the right way to use such imaginative games to pass on these skills to young viewers.

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