I received product to facilitate this review, but all opinions are 100% mine.
We were at Ikea a year ago, and one of my spur-of-the-moment impulse buys (why do those happen SO much at Ikea?!) on that trip was to buy a giant velcro-lid toy box. I wasn’t really sure what we’d do with it, but I knew it would find a spot in our playroom. The box became home to a few hats and an old Halloween costume, and this new “dress up box” became one of my most brilliant accomplishments.
My preschooler looooves to dress up. Since specifying our dress up box, we’ve collected all sorts of costume parts — fire hats from our fire station, funny sunglasses and foam fingers my husband brought home from work, a cape from a superhero birthday party, a doctor’s kit and lots more. Jack and his friends hit up the dress up box almost every day, always coming up with hilarious combinations of outfits (see below) or just acting out various characters (superheroes and cowboys are the current faves).
When it comes time to add to the box (or to pick out a Halloween costume!), I love the selection online at GreatPretenders.ca. All of their dress up clothes have maximum sizing flexibility and high quality to allow for years of play. We tried out this blue dragon costume and it is solid — no rips, no matter how many dangerous battles my four-year-old encounters with his friends.
Besides being just plain fun, dressing up provides all sorts of benefits for children and is vital to their development. Thanks to Great Pretenders for providing more info on this subject, including these positive side effects:
- Social and emotional skills — Dress up allows for experimenting with the social and emotional roles of life. Through cooperative play, children learn societal rules such as how to take turns, share responsibility, and creatively problem-solve.
- Language skills — When children engage in pretend play, you will hear words and phrases you never thought they knew. Pretend play requires children to invent and tell stories and since almost all children narrate their pretend play experiences, they train their minds to transform ideas into words. This also helps with grammar – they may not know the rules but they are training themselves to speak like adults.
- Self-control — Young kids typically have little self-control. During pretend play, children have to take a role and play within those boundaries, especially when other kids are involved. Studies show that children control their impulses significantly better during pretend play than at other times.
- Problem solving skills — Pretend play also provides your child with a variety of problems to solve. Whether it’s the logistics of sharing toys or a pretend problem the children are escaping from, the child calls upon important cognitive thinking skills that he will use in every aspect of his life, now and forever. By practicing problem solving in an artificial environment, kids are better prepared to think of creative solutions to their own real-life problems.
- Self-esteem — By giving your child complete control in their pretend world and accepting them as a silly character, you are enhancing their self-esteem. While they use their own initiative to develop story lines, their creative imagination to expand stories and their own personality to choose a character they enjoy, you are enhancing their self-esteem by allowing them complete power in the world & enjoying it with them.
Take for example superheroes. (This one happens a LOT at my house!) Considering the thrill children get out of pretending to be a grown-up, it’s no wonder that they’re also crazy about mimicking the most powerful version of adults: superheroes. Pretending to be Batman or Wonder Woman allows a toddler to feel brave and invincible, which helps them develop self-confidence. Similarly, all that running and leaping keeps them active and builds strength, balance, and coordination.
Hooray for pretend play! What characters do your little people love to dress up as?