Maybe your child has never shown an interest in pretend play, and maybe your child loves to use his/her imagination during play. Either way, puppets are great for everyone.
I’m sure you can think of ways that puppets can be used in pretend play, so I want to focus on bringing in puppets and pretend play when your child has no interest.
It’s important to learn how to play at your child’s level, and to essentially follow his/her lead. When you play too high or too low, developmental progress may be slower. If you can figure out what your child’s intentions are, and you learn to play at his/her level, you will find greater progress.
If you try to make your child participate in thematic play where the puppets have a role to play, and you have a whole story that you are following, you may lose them if they are at a sensory play level.
If your child is at a sensory level of play, think of the activities you already play and that they enjoy, and then just have the puppet be present. Here are some examples:
Tickling. Have the puppet tickle them instead of you. You’re in essence playing the same game, it’s just that you have a puppet on your hand. The puppet can talk, but don’t have the puppet ask too many questions if your child is not ready for that.
Chase: Have the puppet do the chasing, or have the puppet act scared when it is being chased.
Peek-a-boo/Hide and Seek: Once again, replace yourself with the puppet.
Music: Have the puppet sing songs or do actions instead of you.
You get the idea. The puppet just becomes another participant in the activities your child already loves. The child is usually not the one with the puppet at this stage, but he/she is learning about things the puppet can do. You are modeling for them. When the pretend transfers over to the child (rather than you always being the puppet) you will find this is a good exercise for theory of mind.
If your child is at a simple pretend play level, you can add puppets to activities like eating/cooking, dancing, going to sleep, taking a bath, reading a story, etc.
If your child is at a more complex pretend play level, the puppets will take on a personality of themselves, and you’ll really see your child’s imagination soar.
I love puppets because they can be used at all stages of play, and as the child learns and grows, the puppets will too 🙂