Why role-play is so critical for children’s development

You see a cardboard box; your child sees a castle. If there is one thing that all children have, it’s their incredible ability to use their imagination, unhindered. Role-play is a really important skill to encourage in children as it is so vital to their development in so many areas. It helps them build their understanding of the world, and so it’s no wonder that role-play is used so much by child therapists as an effective tool to treat a wide range of conditions, and to build coping mechanisms for difficult situations. Here we’ll outline just some of the many benefits of encouraging role-play in children.

  1. Role-play stretches their imagination

The more children use role-play, the more their imagination is expanded. And this will stay with them as they travel through life. A healthy imagination leads to a really great set of creative skills which can be used for problem-solving, navigating tricky situations and communication, as well as performing music and drama. Problem-solving is all about thinking outside the box, and it’s in these early years that this skill is honed. So let your children drift away into fantasy land – and perhaps even join them there (it’s great for adults to play, too!).

  • Role-play builds communication skills

When children enter into role-play, they have an opportunity to use new vocabulary that they otherwise might not try out. They’re very quick to pick up new words, constantly adding to their ever-growing, in-built dictionary of ways in which to say things. Communication is as much about listening as it is talking, and through role-play they get an opportunity to develop this skill too. These skills will come into play once they start to read and write.

  • Role-play develops empathy

Social and emotional skills are as important as any other skill that children need to learn, and empathy is a big one that will serve them well throughout their lives. With everything that’s going on in the world it has never been more important to be able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. By promoting role-play at an early age you will start to notice that your child instinctively begins to develop this essential skill earlier than they would have done otherwise. It also helps children start to regulate their own behaviour, too.

  • Role-play promotes physical development

When kids are ensconced in role-play, their bodies are stretched and challenged. They will carry out physical activities that really help to build their strength and also their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Encourage your children to engage in role-play whenever you see the opportunity. It’s fun to disappear into an imaginary world for a few minutes, and you’ll be boosting their development every time you do, too.