Most mothers may have had this scenario at home: your child gets two toys (action figure, stuffed toys or dolls) and starts having a make-believe conversation. At first it’s amusing but then you start to worry. Why is he talking to himself? Is it okay for him to play by himself? You start feeling guilty about him not having enough playmates and you start scheduling a play date immediately.
While it may have been amusing, you wonder: is it safe and healthy for my child to talk to himself?
Make-Believe Is Crucial To Child Development According to psychologist Susan Linn in her book, The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World, make-believe is “crucial to the development of creativity, empathy, learning and problem-solving, but it's being squeezed out of the lives of many children.” She describes make-believe as children’s approach to conquering their fears and exploring their hopes and dreams. So instead of these kids just constantly reacting to situations, they get to initiate actions in this creative play. She affirms that make-believe is a “safe haven for self-expression.”
The same thing holds true for Deedee Santa Cruz-Espina, Managing Director/COO of Writeshop Editorial & Publishing Services Corp., and a mother to five (now all adults): “Make-believe play is a role-playing activity that helps a child actualize a role model. Gaya-gaya is as natural as regular playing with other children. A child will do it without prompting.” All her children went through pretend-play at some point in their lives and she just let them be.
Alternatives to TV Screen Time Linn advises parents to put restrictions on TV screening time and, instead, provide children with tools that promote creative play—instead of electronic toys. Here are some alternatives to help your child engage in creative play:
- Allow kids to enjoy the sun and play outside or make household chores a game that you can play with them. - Take pleasure in music, too. Music is a way of engaging the right side of your child’s brain. Likewise, it also enhances concentration and self-expression. - Throw in some color and art paper! Allow him to explore his imagination on paper.
No need to worry about your child talking to himself. It’s all part of pretend play. In fact, it’s an indicator of your child’s creativity. This doesn’t mean, though, that it’s okay if he doesn’t have enough social interaction. Learning to play with others is just as crucial to your child as learning to use his imagination.
SOURCES: Deedee Santa Cruz-Espina, Managing Director/COO of Writeshop Editorial & Publishing Services Corp., and OIC-Manager at Conspiracy Garden Café, mom to five kids (now all grown-up) Susan Linn, The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World USAToday.com ChildrensMusicWorkshop.com