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How Pretend Play Helps Children Process Change

Have you noticed any new themes or scenarios in your child’s play since the pandemic began? Pretend play allows children to make sense of the world around them. Leaning on favorite dolls or plush friends can help your child process major changes, such as returning to in-person school experiences, broadening your COVID social circle, or welcoming a new sibling to the family. 

As your family navigates changes, big or small, prioritize play and give these language prompts a try: 

“Your Dinkum Doll is heading back to his school, just like you! It feels like he’s been doing Zoom school for a long, long time. Let’s pretend it’s his first day back. How is he feeling? Will you pretend to be the teacher or a student in his class?”

“I bet your Dinkum Doll also wears a mask when she visits the doctor’s office. Let’s make a mask that’s just her size and then you can teach her all about mask-wearing.”

 “Your Dinkum Doll’s family is also preparing for a new baby! How can we help them get ready for the baby? How is your doll feeling about being a big brother?”

While playing, children experiment with a range of emotions or behaviors, take on specific roles, recreate past experiences, or tell new stories. Follow your child’s lead. If he or she is unwilling or unable to engage in complex conversations, remember that play is a powerful way to process big feelings. You may overhear your doll chatting with his or her doll about the very topics you’ve been eager to discuss! 

Looking to add a new pretend friend to your home? Check out our collection of Dinkum Dolls HERE!

Article photo by @theautismcafe

About the Author
Lauren Vien taught in private Manhattan preschools for over a decade before joining the Rose & Rex team as Education Director. With a masters in Early Childhood Education and Special Education from NYU, Lauren is deeply passionate about positive language and developmental play. She lives on the Upper West Side with her husband and two young children, Henry and Violet. Family pastimes include building with couch cushions, preparing plant-based meals, and scooting to neighborhood playgrounds.
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