The Game: Acting Like an Adult
In the beginning, you're apt to catch your kid pretending to be her idol: you! In her eyes, you're superstrong, you seem to know everything, and you're always in control -- qualities all toddlers wish they had. As she gets older, she'll try on other take-charge adult roles (think doctor, policewoman, or store owner), which helps her make sense of the real world.
Your Role: Join your child's make-believe games (if you're invited, of course), but remember: You should always let her direct the action. "Ruling an imaginary world is comforting to toddlers because the real one seems so big and intimidating to them," says Dr. Healy. "This is their chance be in control." However, it is okay to help your child expand the story, which improves her powers of imagination, says Dr. Bergen. For example, if you and your child are cooking a pretend meal for her stuffed animals, you might say, "Wow, Bunny ate all the delicious soup you gave him. What do you think a rabbit would like to have for dessert?"