Dr. Courtney Knapp

Child & Adolescent Psychologist Serving Orange County, California

Make-believe Play

An article found here discusses the importance of old fashioned play time. As a play therapist this is something I am a huge advocate of and yet see it less and less in our culture as a whole. The article hits on several key advantages of allowing children to engage in free play without it being screen time or a structured extracurricular activity. One of the advantages discussed and that I educate parents about is that of self-regulation. Through pretend play children learn to regulate their feelings and behaviors meaning, for example, that if a child is upset they can problem solve the situation or talk it out with an adult. The article discusses another behavior developed during pretend play which is private speech. If you have ever watched a child engaging in pretend play they will often narrate what it is they are doing (“the baby needs a bottle now”). In children this private speech is said out loud. This narration-like talk observed during free play eventually becomes internal private speech (taking in our minds to ourselves) which we all use on a daily basis to help regulate ourselves (“ I hope this traffic clears up so I make it to work on time”). With my background as a play therapist I do believe in the power of certain kinds of toys which the article says children do not need toys at all but can just use the natural environment. A child using his/her natural environment especially during infancy and young toddler years can promote attention span and creativity. As a child ages I prefer what I call “neutral” toys such as a bucket of farm animals, a doctor’s kit, and a basic baby doll which can be hard to find these days with the specific themes of movies and television creeping into the toy aisles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *