Thursday, October 6, 2011

Children’s Dress-Up Play - The Real Meanings behind This Childhood Phenomenon

Whether you have young children of your own or you work in an early childhood center, you know that kids love to play dress-up. From putting on Mom or Dad’s shoes to saving the world in a superhero costume, small children spend hours in imaginative play, dressing up as their role models or favorite characters. But there is more to this type of role play than simply pretending to be a favorite cartoon character; here, we explain some of the deeper meanings behind your child’s pretend play.

Mom and Dad’s clothing

One of a child’s favorite places to find dress-up clothes is in mom or dad’s closet. Nearly every baby album has at least one photograph of little ones teetering in high heels, draping themselves with ties or scarves, and donning oversized hats. Kids love to play with the buttons, buckles and laces, and wearing their caregiver’s clothing allows them to feel grown up in a way that they don’t in their own everyday play clothes.

“Fancy” dress

What little girl doesn’t love to put on a costume and pretend to be her favorite Disney princess or deck herself out with all the plastic “bling” she can find? Toddlers use dress-up to sort out gender roles; at this age, it is all about the visual, so girls tend to go for the ultimate in feminine attire. Little boys often dress up in more feminine costumes, as well, and vice versa; small children are able to tell the difference between males and females, but they also believe that changing clothing (or putting on a wig or a fake mustache) changes their identity. Again, this is a perfectly normal way for children to figure out who they are and is not an indication of any lasting behavior.

Superheroes (or just plain regular heroes)

Dressing up and “flying” around the house in a cape or putting on a plastic fire hat and putting out imaginary fires allows little ones to feel powerful and in control, as well as engage in healthy physical activity. This type of imaginative play is important in developing problem-solving skills and learning to cooperate with peers.

Animals or fantasy creatures

Kids love animals, and dressing up as their favorite furry – or slithery- creature is a great way for kids to learn about the animal world. Pretending to be a dinosaur or a lion can also foster a sense of being powerful, at least until they are ready to become themselves again.

The Guidecraft See and Store Dress-Up Center is the perfect place to store all of your child’s favorite dress-up clothes. With its roomy shelves for shoes and other accessories and the wooden dowel for hanging costumes and dresses, you can organize all of your child’s pretend play items for easy access and easy cleanup. The all-natural wood is perfect for any play space and decor. You will find the dress-up center, as well as a wide range of other furnishings and storage items, online at A Kid Place.


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