Pretend play and setting realistic boundaries - The Mommy CityBetween the ages of 3 and 4 is an exciting time for your little one as their imaginative play reaches its peak. They’ll absolutely love playing with both realistic toys, such as aeroplanes or helicopters, as well as objects they can transform into something else with their imagination.

Setting limits

As your toddler’s imagination continues to grow and grow and games become increasingly active, it’s also important to set some limits.

For instance, clearly tell them not to play with the ball in the house or throw their toys around. Knowing what they may and may not do will actually make your toddler feel safer and they’ll start to understand social rules and boundaries.

At this age, your child will just adore dressing up – and they’ll be really creative in what they choose to wear! That’s why dressing up and make believe is such a great way to encourage their rich imagination, self-expression, and awareness of themselves and others.

Space to play

Create a safe place where they can play and make a mess, without destroying your house. It can be a playroom or a designated corner of your living room or bedroom. With these simple ideas you can help develop your child’s imagination whilst keeping realistic age appropriate boundaries, so you can all enjoy the games:

  • Imagination box: fill a trunk or box with props, dress-up clothes and empty containers. They can be bought items or a few older items of your clothing and pieces of fabric. Their imagination will run wild with basic objects that can be turned into absolutely anything. Let your youngster choose their characters, props and dress-up clothes, as it’s important for them to be in charge of their playtime. After they have had their fun, all the items must be put back into the box for another day.
  • Reading time: transport your toddler to another world by reading to them in different voices and changing your facial expressions for different characters.
  • Play kitchen: set up a play kitchen with a cooking set and plastic plates and cutlery. Felt or plastic food is great fun for pretend and empty cereal boxes and milk cartons work well too. Provide an empty bowl and a dishcloth so they can wash up the dishes too.
  • Pack away song: make up a fun song to encourage your child to pack away. Since my children are still small, our song is very simple and we just sing “pack away, pack away” in a pretty tune.
  • Messy play: keep a bowl of soapy water and a face cloth near during messy activities such as painting and playing in the mud. After playtime, your child should get into a routine of washing their hands and feet in the bowl before walking through the house to the bathroom for a full wash.

I have had fun setting up my children’s playroom, and it’s nice to have a space where there is nothing they can break, the plastic table and chairs are easy to wipe clean, and all their toys are in one place.

Their toys do creep into the other areas of the house, but I do set limits within reason, so we can all be happy in our family space. My Pinterest boards are also filled with more exciting ideas for dress up and play, and a few DIY projects to try.


This post was sponsored by Mysmartkid.

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Pretend play and creating a space to encourage imagination - The Mommy City Pretend play and setting realistic boundaries - The Mommy City

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