Role playing bedtime with toddlers

Role-play is a fantastic way for little ones to learn confidence, express creativity and develop their imaginations. Today, it is very easy to place iPads, TV’s and phones into little hands and let’s be honest these things are great for learning too. Role-play can be an excellent way in helping little ones learn about new life skills and routine that maybe they find challenging. Children are great at role-play and they love imitating whether it be a parent, an animal or even a cartoon. They become engrossed in the moment as they take on the make-believe world of expression. When children engage in role-play they are developing their understanding of other views, personalities, behaviours and perspective, these in turn help children to learn social skills; turn taking, teamwork and sharing.

More interestingly, role-play can also help children emotionally. For little ones, learning to deal with emotions is a huge learning curve as their prefrontal cortex matures as they get older meaning that at times, they can struggle with controlling emotions and often respond impulsively. By playing make-believe, children allow themselves naturally to act out different emotions or even imagine them. By doing this, they are more likely to talk about them more openly and recognise more freely positive and negative emotions and feelings.

Role-play can be GREAT for bedtime. I always advocate a consistent and calm routine at bedtime with no screens. Bedtime should be about relaxing and bonding. Encouraging role-play with your little one using one or two teddies can work really well. You can talk about teddy’s feelings and make a story up about what he has been doing today and you can talk about teddy wanting to go to sleep. Including a familiar comforter into role-play and bedtime can make settling to sleep easier. You could tell a story using teddy or get teddy to ‘choose’ the story for the night.’ Be sure to include teddy when brushing teeth too and getting dressed. The more you encourage positive routines around teddy the more your child will engage with the role-play.

It can also be nice to role-play together in a fantasy story, be creative and tell a calming story with a magical land with lovely adventures, finish the story with the view of excitement around tomorrow’s adventure story. Imaginative story and play engages children and can be used effectively with routines and encouragement around positive behaviours.

Laura, Babbaboo Sleep.

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