Role playing and imaginary play

If your toddler's immersed in imaginary play, play along

Q: My three-year-old has changed her name to Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and will not answer to anything else. This is not just at home, but at preschool and with other family members. She can get very upset and aggressive if you insist she is not Alice.

A: There seems to be something about Alice in Wonderland that has your daughter fascinated — and you can only find out what this is by playing along with her. Let yourself have fun and take advantage of how easygoing your daughter can be if you imagine with her that she is Alice.

If you allow her to pretend at home, your daughter will have at least one place where she can satisfy her need to be Alice and, as a result, she may gradually learn to tolerate it when others won’t play along. In the meantime, you will need to help her deal with her frustration when peers and extended family do not accept her as Alice.

At age three, it is perfectly natural for children to spend much of their time immersed in imaginary play; at the same time, it can be difficult for them to discern what’s real and what is pretend. Not to worry; this is normal and it won’t go on for too long. As she grows, your daughter’s thought processes are becoming more sophisticated — and I wouldn’t be surprised if one day soon she announces that she is not Alice anymore.