Why Dressing Up is Good for Kids
If your toddler or preschooler can’t get enough of her favorite princess dress or his prized Power Ranger suit (you know, the one with the chocolate milk stains)—don’t worry. Playing pretend is a positive sign that your child’s imagination and creativity are right on track.
“I have a Snow White at my house,” says Dr. Susan E. Caudle, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Texas Children’s Hospital. Her preschool-aged daughter is currently fascinated with all things princess. “Three years old is a magical time when the imagination is really coming online,” Dr. Caudle says.
But always being a princess can present some problems, especially if your little one refuses to wear anything but her royal garb. Here’s how to survive the trials and tribulations of your child’s dress-up phase.
Why Dressing Up is a Positive Sign
Child psychologists note that imagination and creativity begin during toddlerhood and blossom during the preschool years. Dr. Caudle explains that imagination is tied directly to brain development; once children have mastered walking and talking, they have more brainpower available for learning more about the world around them.
Dressing up supports this growing brain development in two ways according to Dr. Caudle:
- It supports learning language. “If you watch kids as they play, they narrate their way through it.”
- It helps a child put himself into someone else’s shoes. Identifying with someone else is a job for the frontal lobe of the brain, which Dr. Caudle explains is that last part of the brain to fully develop.
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