Pretend Play: Should You Let Your Toddler Be A Doctor?

Pretend play has multiple benefits for children. They love to play doctor with their friends, toys or even with you. Put together this simple doctor’s kit with items that are easy to make.

By Deepika Mohan

Pretend Play: Should You Let Your Toddler Be A Doctor?

A child’s imagination is simply amazing. Using their imaginations, children conjure up a variety of games for themselves. You may have noticed your child acting as if she is a shop keeper and trying to sell something. Perhaps there have been instances when she has picked up the phone and tried to talk like an adult. While this pretend play is a cute spectacle to watch, it also does a lot of good for the child’s development.

Pretend play builds skills in three broad areas. These are:

  1. Language skills: While engaging in pretend play with toys or friends, your child uses various words and phrases. There may be times when you’re surprised to hear some of the language your child uses. Children are great masters of imitation, they pick up new words from almost everywhere — the television, conversations between adults and from their peers at school. Engaging in pretend play gives them the opportunity to use these words and enhances their understanding of them.
  2. Social and emotional skills: Pretend play helps your child experiment with different social roles. By imagining himself in someone else’s shoes, your child begins to understand and develop empathy. Engaging in pretend play with other children also helps him learn the importance of taking turns, sharing responsibility and knowing when to lead and when to follow.
  3. Thinking skills: Since pretend play relies almost exclusively on the imagination, your child has no choice but to exercise his thinking abilities. When two children want to play the same role in a particular scenario, they exercise their problem solving skills to resolve the issue.

So, by all means, encourage your child to engage in pretend play as much as possible. As a parent you can even step in and provide him with certain equipment that will make his imaginary games more realistic. A popular pretend play game with children is playing the role of a doctor. We’ve included instructions on how to make some of the equipment that doctors typically use. Include your child in this activity for some hands-on parent-child bonding.

You’ll need

Things to make:

  • Stethoscope
  • Prescription pad
  • X-ray film

Other things to add to the bag:

  • Crayon (as a pretend injection)
  • Gauze
  • Cotton
  • An empty plastic bottle or tube to make a pretend ointment container
  • Inexpensive adhesive bandage
  • Eye chart to stick on the wall

Making a stethoscope

You’ll need: Two thin flexible tubes of equal length, a hair band (that does not have sharp edges), ribbon, paper cup

How to make: Tie a ribbon to the middle of the hair band. Cut equal portions from both ends of the hair band to form a semicircle. Insert each end of the semicircle into a tube. Cut a paper cup into half horizontally and use the bottom half. Make a small hole at the bottom of the paper cup. Insert the other end of the ribbon through the hole and tie a knot. Now, the paper cup is suspended from the ribbon. Cut two small pieces from unused portion of the hair band. Insert them into the open ends of the tubes.

Precaution: Children generally like to put the stethoscope around the neck. As a safety measure, wrap the hair band with a soft ribbon or cloth securely to prevent it from hurting your child.

To make prescriptions

Take an A4 size paper and cut it into four quarters. Write the 'Rx' symbol on the left hand top corner. This stands for ‘prescription’. Then, write your child’s name prefixing it with ‘Dr’, an address and a phone number (pretend ones). Write ‘Patient Name’ and leave the line blank for your child to write his patient’s name. 

To make an x-ray

Cut a black chart paper into 4 or 6 pieces depending on the size you want. Use white chalk to draw a hand or a skull. 

Once your child has all of this equipment on hand, encourage him to use it to act out scenarios where he is the doctor. You can even join in the game with him, but remember to allow him to lead the activity. Letting him to structure the game himself will give him a chance to express his creativity and do wonders for his confidence.