Cooking up a dinner which may include ice-cream and fried egg for the mains, hosting a magical tea party even Alice in Wonderland would be jealous of. Tending to a demanding sick unicorn patient, and having to deal with difficult customers at your grocery shop. It’s all in a day’s work for your child when immersed in imaginative play at home!
Some of the fondest memories of childhood are the hours we submerged ourselves in magical worlds. Sometimes alone, sometimes with our sisters, brothers, cousins and friends. Inside, outside, under pillows, in trees. We let our imaginations take our hands and lead us to places undiscovered.
What we didn’t know at the time was just how significant these moments were for us as children. In the development of our emotions, empathy, and understanding of the world around us…as well as the fact that it stimulates the brain to produce feel-good chemicals such as dopamine, and decreases stress chemicals.
The state of the world right now is something even adults are finding hard to fully comprehend and manage. Children are no more immune to its changes than we are. They have less tools and language than us to manage their reactions and emotions in response to what is transpiring around them. In this time where everything seems upside down and inside out, children find refuge and some form of control in their world of pretend play. For our young children, make-believe play provides an important context for them to explore the world. To gain new knowledge, and to make sense in their own way of what is happening around them.
Imaginative play is their language tool. Allowing children to express thoughts and feelings which they may not know how to put into words. They use this play to assimilate experiences, express feelings, release tension, as well as to manage stress and conflict.
Where we may have a partner, professional or friend to hold space for us as we make our way through the world, our children have their play!
At the end of the day it is an beautiful way to escape to enchanting worlds. Let your children discover these on their own. But always be close by to join in if they request your help to fight the dragon, flip the plastic fried egg, braid the princess’s hair. Or stand still as the plane circles your mountain head and makes a scratchy landing along your arm.