Children throughout the ages have enjoyed dressing up in costumes and engaging in dramatic roleplaying. When your child wears a costume, her brain kicks into high gear, whether she’s a dragon, a princess, or a fairy!
Even though you may think it is just play, the cape, crown, or pirate’s eye-patch your child wears is helping to develop his brain in more ways than you can imagine. Children gain cognitive, physical, social, and emotional benefits from dress-up play, as early childhood educators know.
Benefits of Dress Up Play for Toddlers
In addition to being a great tool in their development, dress up games with our children are a very important and essential activity for their early education. Our children are at an age where their minds absorb everything, their imagination has no limits, and they are just discovering the world and themselves.
Dress-up play is more than just physically wearing a costume. Kids act out their characters when they dress up. Kids imitate the character’s mannerisms and may even create their own special characteristics and themes, which encourages them to “think outside the box,” practice different emotions, and use their language skills as they communicate. Here are just a few examples of what play dress up can do for your kid.
In role-play, a child is able to see the world through the eyes of another, and this in turn increases empathy – whether pretending to be a parent nurturing a child or a firefighter putting out a fire. Children benefit from dramatic play by understanding the role that helpers play in our lives.
Creativity & Imagination
Playing dress up games allows children to express themselves freely, revealing their perceptions of the world and how they develop theories about it.
By dressing up with costumes, our toddlers are able to explore, to experiment, and to create different scenarios for their characters, thereby strengthening their imaginations and creativity. Some days they are fighting dragons and the next one they might be discovering a new species of fish in the middle of the ocean.
Children are constantly confronted with scary situations that they don’t understand – whether witnessing an accident in real life, or seeing violent images on TV. Children process their fears through play, which helps them make sense of the world and overcome feelings of helplessness. When we allow children to act out their fears through dress-up and role playing, we help them develop their emotional skills.
Creating stories and adventures not only helps our children develop the creative side of their brain, but also encourages them to work with others. Dress-up play encourages cooperation and taking turns. As children agree on stories and rules, they learn how to negotiate. They learn how to give and take and become interested in others.
Fine Motor Skills
As our children take on the character, they will be running like superheroes, jumping like kangaroos, and leaping like dancers, which will help them develop better gross motor skills.
In addition to all these activities, when they are required to put on their costumes they will also practice coordination when buttoning a shirt or jacket, tying the laces on their shoes, or bedazzling that cape. This practice will allow them to improve their movement and coordination every day.
The brain of our child is in the process of developing rapidly, and they learn by relating what they have seen before with new experiences. Dress-up or other kinds of dramatic play allow us to recreate situations that our children have already encountered.
Playing dress-up builds vocabulary as a child decides what their character would say. It gives them a chance to expand their vocabulary by using words and phrases that they might have heard in stories, but wouldn’t normally use. Children may then begin to use these new words in conversations.
When children choose costumes and characters to be, they are able to explore different gender identities and the behaviors of those characters.
Often, boys want to be superheroes, firemen, or pirates, and girls want to be fairies and princesses. But as children learn about the world, it is normal and healthy for them to try on different gender roles. It is never acceptable to ridicule a child for pretending to be a different gender.
When children engage in dress-up play, their imaginations are given free reign. It doesn’t matter who they are, where they go, or what they do. Wishing the children in your life many hours of fun dress-up play!
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Baby Toddler & Kids. 2021. What are the Benefits of Dress Up Play for Toddlers? – Baby Toddler & Kids. [online] Available at: <https://www.babytoddlerandkids.com.au/benefits-of-dress-up-play/> [Accessed 9 November 2021].
Baldwin, S. and Baldwin, S., 2021. 10 Benefits of Dress-Up Play for Children – Moon Child Blog – Bella Luna Toys – Sarah Baldwin. [online] Blog.bellalunatoys.com. Available at: <https://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2016/10-benefits-of-dress-up-play-for-children.html> [Accessed 9 November 2021].