Dress-ups and role play are a crucial part of child development. When engaging in dress-ups, children’s imaginations are at work whilst they practice their creative thinking. There are no limitations while creating our own worlds, and they are a safe space to test new behaviours and identities. We can be who or whatever we’d like to be. This type of play leads to many different skills practised, so here are 10 benefits of playing dress-ups.
1. Problem Solving Development
When role-playing, children make many different decisions. They create situations and scenes in which their character exists and are required to problem-solve these situations, especially when participating in a dramatic role-play. They also decide among themselves who will play which character, what they will wear and, the props needed to act out a particular scenario.
2. Communication Skills
Communication skills are a big part of role-playing, as you can imagine! While we know role-play is somewhere children must converse, they also gain a space where they can experiment with a new language. For example, what would a superhero say? What would Batman say? It allows children to practise a vocabulary they otherwise don’t get a chance to use!
3. Develop Empathy
Role-playing allows a child to see the world through someone else’s eyes. For example, saving someone else while role-playing as a superhero. It helps children understand the role of helpers (such as firemen, nurses, doctors etc.) in everyday life.
4. Motor Skills
Buttons, zippers, and tying a cape around our neck all help to develop our fine motor skills. Our large motor Skills are also in action while we run and jump like a superhero.
Dressup encourages conversations, cooperation, turn-taking, negotiations and planning. This is where children develop interests in others and learn to give and take. They are beginning to understand someone else’s feelings.
6. Memory Building and Imitation Skills
During role-play, children remember and recall things they’ve heard or seen to carry on the storyline they are engaged in. They also use their imitation skills whilst acting. For example, they will copy things they have seen a doctor or a mother doing to fulfil that role.
7. Emotional Development
As described above, children emulate situations and actions of other real-life characters they’ve witnessed. They also do this with emotions they’ve seen. A role play may require the child to experience a feeling. At this moment, the child can imagine how they would behave, react, process and recover from this emotion. For example, a scenario may arise where a child must feel sad. The child will model how this feeling may affect them and how they might recover to continue the storyline. Thus resulting in emotional maturity (For a little while).
8. Exploring Identities
Role play creates a safe space for children to explore themselves. They use this as an opportunity to experiment with different identities, behaviours and ideas. They discover what they do and don’t like. Children may also experiment with being a nurse. This may, in the future, foster a part of their identity. Children may also use this safe space to explore different gender identities and their behaviours. Boys gravitate toward being the father, fireman or hero, whereas girls will gravitate towards being the mother, nurse or teacher. It is typical for children to experiment with other gender roles as they discover themselves.
9. Imagination Development
This is a big one! Practising your imagination aids in all the skills mentioned thus far. It is the catalyst for creative thinking, ingenuity and thinking outside the box. This is how children learn about the world, learn to manipulate materials, express themselves and plan, act and react.
Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge” Imagination is the door to possibilities.
10. Strengthening Relationships
With all these skills at work, children can connect, communicate, empathise and grow with those they are playing with. Being capable of strengthening a relationship is a core skill. It will continue to bring happiness to those who can master it.