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Friday, October 11, 2019

9 Benefits of Playing Dress Up for Children

Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay

In the month of October, we see dress-up clothes all over the place. Princesses, pirates, firefighters, and ballerinas galore! But beyond Halloween fun and the sugar rush our kids will inevitably get, the benefits of dressing up and dramatic play are many.

Memory Retention

Dressing up and dramatic play encourage children to exercise their brains and pull accumulated knowledge into a specific scenario. Children are observant and dramatic play allows them to use the skills and knowledge they see every day. Be it playing house, taking care of a baby doll, or acting out a fairy tale, dramatic play is a workout for their brain as it recalls information before play-acting.


Through dress-up play, children take on the persona of their costume. They may explore different vocabulary they believe is appropriate for their character and, eventually, children can learn how to apply language to different situations and eventually apply it to their everyday activities and communications.

Problem-Solving Skills

Before dress-up play can begin, children need to solve a few different problems, including decisions regarding what scenarios to act out/play, who gets to act out which role, and what is needed to outfit the roles involved. Solving these problems as a group or as individuals forces the children to navigate problems and arrive at solutions that will move the play forward.

Empathy Towards Others

We've heard the phrase "...walk a mile in their shoes…" Through dramatic play, children are able to put this phrase into action and better understand the perspectives and experiences of others. They may exercise their ability to soothe and feel nurturing when playing with a baby, or brave as they pretend to be a firefighter or soldier.

Emotional Development

The processing of difficult situations through play is a safe way for children who may have seen or experienced trauma or acts of violence. It can help them overcome feelings of helplessness and regain a sense of wellbeing.

Fine Motor Skills Development

A less obvious benefit of dress-up play is the development of fine motor skills. Be it buttons, zippers, or ties, the different pieces of play clothes challenge children to practice their fine motor skills. Large motor skills, such as jumping, running, and spinning are also used in dramatic play.

Gender Identity and Exploration

We may find little girls playing as princesses or fairies more often than boys, who may be more likely to pretend play as firefighters and pirates. Exploring differently gendered roles through play allows children to experience a different perspective.

Social Skills

Dramatic group play offers children the opportunity to practice cooperating with others, building on the story being played and negotiating the rules of the scenario. The concept of sharing and taking turns is also practiced during group play.

Creativity and Imagination

Dramatic play allows children to stretch the constraints of reality. By using their imagination, children are engaged in creative thinking that can serve them well in real life.
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Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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