When I was little, I remember digging around in the alley next to my house making “soup” with my best friend, rocking my baby doll to sleep, and becoming whatever superhero or princess I wanted to be that day. When you think back on your childhood, is there a certain imaginary game that comes to mind that you would always play with your friends?  Have you noticed a definite script in your child’s play?

The media that surrounds kids makes a huge impact on the way they play. Is your daughter always running around the house in her special Elsa dress freezing her sister’s heart?  Is your son constantly insisting that his name is actually Batman, or Hulk Smash, instead of the name you thought you put on his birth certificate?  While scripted play can be good, it shouldn’t necessarily happen all the time.

There are plenty of ways to support their imagination and encourage healthier pretend play.  Start by unplugging your child, turn off the television and send them outside.  Surround them with more open-ended toys; Legos, blocks, play dough, generic dolls and animals, rather than high-specificity toys like that Elsa doll or Spiderman action figure.Imaginary Play is the child’s most valuable resource for learning.  It helps them develop emotional, social, and cognitive skills.  Playing all those awesome and crazy games helps build your child’s emotional flexibility.  Pretend play is also a great tool for children to develop their language skills and build a more complex vocabulary.  It helps them figure out what to do in certain social situations, from what they’ve observed around them on a daily basis.  It helps promote inventive thinking and problem-solving skills.  The imagination helps children see the world from more than one point of view.

Everyone wants to be a superhero, but whatever your superpower is, such as magical ice powers or the ability to fly, imagination is important.  Everyone has a dream, and your dreams constantly change and shape into who they really want to be.  Encourage your children, your nieces, your grandchildren to pretend to be different things.  Imagination makes the world go round; it brought us electricity and landed us on the moon.  Each child has infinite potential, why let them be a copy of someone else’s dream when they can truly be a SUPERHERO!

-Clarissa Eatchel (Bravo Employee)