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Toddler Talk: The Fun of Dress-Up

"Pwincess!!" shouted my three year old daughter gleefully, pointing to the waving princess atop the float in the parade we were watching. "Mommy! Pwincess!!"

My daughter was decked out in her own full princess regalia, including gown, tiara, and even fake clip-on plastic diamond earrings. She was as excited as teenager at a rock star concert. All around us screaming little girls clapped and jumped as their favorite princesses waved at them.

The noise grew louder as the boys joined in the frenzy when a cartoon pirate float came into view around the corner.

While television time should be limited to less than two hours per day and is not recommend at all for very young children, your child will likely know some of the more popular characters through toys, books and games. Regardless of whether or not your child knows the television characters, dressing up as princesses, pirates and other make-believe characters is great fun for kids.

No need to purchase costumes—household items work just fine for young imaginations. A small blanket is great as a cape, and folded construction paper make perfect crowns and pirate hats.

At around 18 months, children start to do more imaginative play instead of just copying things they have seen others do. Between two and three years of age, children will act out scenes and have their own “dialogue,” which may involve others as characters in the story. Three to five year olds love costumes and may change from one to another in rapid succession as they tell their superhero stories or fairy tales. Pretend play evolves rapidly as a language development becomes more complex.

Reading stories and taking your child to age appropriate performances at your local theater or library is a great way to expose your child to the art of storytelling, costumes, props and dialogue.

“Mommy, pirate!” said my daughter, attempting to press her princess wand over my eye.

Dodging the shiny sparkly eye poking device, I put my hand over one eye, and replied, “Ahoy, matey!” Guess I’ll invest in a pirate patch next!

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