Pretend play is an important stage in play development. This stage usually starts at around 2 years of age. Better pretend play skills are noticed at 3-4 years of age. Pretend play is also known as imaginary play. It’s a symbolic play where a child uses objects and actions through imagination to represent another object, action or person.

Pretend play can improve;

  • Communication skills
  • Increase vocabulary
  • Increase the length of utterance
  • Improve social and emotional skills
  • Nurturing imagination
  • Increase problem solving skills and thinking skills


Children with ASD usually lack pretend play or they will show limited variations in pretend play. It is important to develop pretend play skills in children who fails to have appropriate social and communication skills.

How we can develop pretend play in children

  • First teach your child to use toys in the intended way. Eg; riding toy car, banging drum, building structures, throwing ball.
  • After your child advances in this functional play, teach them to pretend with realistic objects. Eg; drinking in a cup, combing doll’s hair, eating with spoon.
  • If your child succeeds in that help your child to pretend with an invisible hand. Eg; action of brushing, action of eating, drinking without cup.
  • Then teach your child to substitute one object for another. Eg; use stick for knife, banana as phone.

How we can involve in child’s play

  • Observe your child’s play
  • Imitate your child’s actions
  • show your child a new pretend action
  • Make your child to imitate your actions
  • Use a lot of vocabulary while you are play
  • Follow your child’s lead

Child Development Centre

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