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Monday, November 16, 2009


benefits of playing dress up with kids

Shall I...

scuttle about as an Indian (sari-clad) Lady Bug?
click my shoes as a Mod Dorothy?
pretend to be a Punk Pattee?
transform into a Purple Princess?
metamorphose to a Butterfly Fairy?
The possibilities are endless!

Especially when there is a dedicated cubby full of things to spark the imagination.

Playing dress-up is one of the simplest yet one of the most creative activities kids can easily indulge in... and Ana has loved it since about 2½ when she could change into clothes without much help.

It is not just about changing outfits. It is about transforming and transporting herself into the roles and into the worlds she creates in her head. Simple as that.

I remember my mom's favorite towel (thoarth, as it was called) becoming my flowing princess' cape, my dad's check-pattern full-sleeved shirt becoming my invisibility cloak, the long thin leaves from the Ashoka tree strung together to become a skirt for the Tribal queen, some mango leaves tied together for a crown... and on soggy monsoon half-yearly holidays, all I needed was my View Master® with my dad's special set of reels and a few good books to be wherever I wanted to be.

And it doesn't have to be a made-up world.

Whether it is Playing Doctor using her stethoscope and otoscope and syringe pretending to make Og feel better when he is sick... or, Playing Mommy to her Cabbage Patch Doll Enid Paapaa changing diapers and feeding her with a bottle and dressing her up from head-to-toe... the benefits of role-playing in trying to understand the world around her cannot be dismissed.

There are tons of studies explaining the power of this simple activity, the basic and most effective one addressing the developmental goals of: "gender role identification, the growing and changing of interpersonal relationships, and conscience development", not to mention how this type of "imaginative, open-ended play can foster creative thinking which eventually manifests as better problem solving skill" and the most attractive of all for me, "build up self-confidence"...

Facts aside, dress-up play is pure fun. Especially during cold winter weekends. Who needs outdoors when one can camp out on the living room carpet - with her little pink tent, sleeping bag, Enid Paapaa, a few good books, and View Master® (with my own ancient reels from childhood, plus a few new ones) and her vivid imagination for company?

Being rather fanciful, the many unique personas she makes up is sure to enrich and inspire her. It doesn't have to be positive ones always: every once in a while she likes to be an evil witch or a nasty goblin hounding Oggie (or me) to see our reaction. Sure enough, Oggie cries and expresses his dislike and she learns how her actions can affect people she loves...

And, as I was sorting through Ana's Costume Cubby to see if there is anything she wouldn't miss if I donated them away, I realized it can wait till she really outgrows them in all respects before I am in a hurry to ground her down to reality. Plus, it would be nice to see if Oggie takes to this activity and enjoys it as much as Ana has done so far...

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At 1:37 PM, Blogger Dee said...

lovely, lovely. I am having Chintu stay with me for 2-3 days before next week and your activities are proving very useful :) you rock!

At 8:52 AM, Blogger ChoxBox said...

you inspire lady!

the saree pic is awesome btw. love the colour!

At 4:51 PM, Anonymous sole said...

Ana is such a doll Sheela and you are so totally awesome!

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

::Dee:: Take it easy - I am getting very antsy and will be looking fwd to hearing from you...

::ChoxBox::Thanks! The cool thing is the mini sarees are basically elastic-waist skirt with front pleats which have a long pallu attached - all one piece - so, Ana has to just pull it on like a skirt and wrap the hanging piece of pallu and toss it over her shoulder :)

Oh, and, the sarees are my mom's - what she was wearing when she visited - torn up and stitched to a mini saree

::sole:: Thank you! And, guess what? Ana's dolly also has matching blue mini dolly-saree! Yep, to be put on just like hers - a skirt with pallu :) I meant to get a picture of Ana and her dolly in matching sarees - maybe next time...


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