5 Reasons Why Playing Like Mum Helps Kids Develop

Imitation and pretend play are both absolutely vital for child development and, because kids and their Mums are often joined at the hip, it’s hardly a surprise that little ones often choose to imitate their mothers.
Research has shown that this is completely natural and, with so many developmental benefits, should be encouraged. There are plenty of ways in which children imitating their parents can help them to develop, so we’ve outlined five.
1. Self-esteem
During imitation play, a child develops a sense of self-esteem which is important as they grow up.
When pretending to be like Mum, whether that be through nurturing dolls or pretending to do housework, your child learns that they can pretend to be anything or anyone, despite their size, age, and dependency levels.
By using their imagination, your child is acting as the creator of their own world, which can be reassuring for them as their sense of self-esteem grows.
2.  Empathy
Pretend play allows children to be someone else and, in the process, they develop a sense of empathy. Playing like Mum or, in essence, pretending to be Mum allows the child to put themselves into the shoes of another person.
We spoke to the team at Play Like Mum who said: “Children learn empathy through imitation play, and this moral development allows them to understand how other people may feel in different situations, which is great for developing their relationships.”
3. Language
Have you ever heard your child talking and realise they sound just like you? Or have you ever heard your child recite words and phrases whilst they were playing that you never thought they knew?
This is a frequent occurrence for many parents, which not only proves that you need to be very careful about what you say around your child but shows that, by imitating you, they are exercising their vocabulary and learning about the power of language.
4. Social and emotional development
Through imaginative play, children are confronted with imaginary situations. Regardless of whether they’re playing with other children or an imaginary friend, children who engage in imaginary imitation will encounter other people as they go along.
They will also encounter situations which they may find daunting such as pretending to use the oven in a kitchen playset.
All of these imaginary situations will help your child experience potentially uncomfortable situations and help them become more comfortable in new positions.
5. Bonding
In many cases, toddlers at the age of around 15 months old have developed the skills to imitate their parents. Because younger children do not reap any rewards from copying their parents, it is said that bonding is partially what drives the behaviour.
Imitating their parents either through play or simply by copying actions and noises creates an intimate bond between them and the adult, which is one of the reasons they engage in the behaviour.
As the child ages, they will realise that they may get some attention or positive reinforcement for mimicry and that is another reason why they will engage with it.
For more information on imaginative play and how it can enhance your child’s life, read this really interesting article from Psychology Today.
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