5 Benefits of Encouraging Your Child’s Imagination

Learning to think symbolically expands a child's mind.

As a parent you might never guess all the ways a good imagination benefits your child. It helps a preschooler:

Develop social skills
As children play pretend, they explore relationships between family members, friends and co-workers and learn more about how people interact. Playing doctor, they imagine how physicians care for their patients. Playing house, they learn more about how parents feel about their children. Imaginative play helps develop empathy for others. If children can imagine how it feels to be left out of a game or to lose a pet, they are better able to help those in need. They become more willing to play fair, to share, and to cooperate.

Build self-confidence
Young children have very little control over their lives. Imagining oneself as a builder of skyscrapers or a superhero defending the planet is empowering to a child. It helps them develop confidence in their abilities and their potential.

5 Benefits of Encouraging Your Child’s Imagination© 2009 Jupiterimages Corporation

Boost intellectual growth
Using the imagination is the beginning of abstract thought. Children who can see a king’s castle in a mound of sand or a delicious dinner in a mud pie are learning to think symbolically. This skill is important in school where a child will have to learn that numerals symbolize groups of objects, letters symbolize sounds, and so on.

Practice language skills
Kids who play pretend with their friends do a lot of talking. This helps boost their vocabulary, improve sentence structure and enhance communication skills.

Work out fears
Playing pretend can help children work out their fears and worries. When children role-play about the big, bad monster under the bed, they gain a sense of control over him and he doesn’t seem quite so big or so bad. Imaginative play also helps kids vent confusing feelings they might have, such as anger toward a parent or rivalry with a new sibling.

To encourage your youngster’s imagination, read to him every day. Books offer children the opportunity to visit other worlds and create new ones of their own.