A toddlers understanding of fantasy being different from reality has to be ingrained by parents at just the right age and stage. This makes sure they don’t confuse their imagination with the reality around them.
Fantasy is a big, beautiful world. To tingle our children’s imagination, we expose them to this wonderful world right from the beginning- telling them stories, talking about fairies and angels, showing them different cartoons and movies that are heavy on fantasy. At the time of growing up, the child believes that all that is being told to him is real until he nearly grows out of being a pre-schooler. It is your prerogative to expose your child to the difference between fantasy and reality. Let’s learn how.
Teaching Toddlers About Reality vs. Fantasy
Understand the Child’s Perception
Toddlers start understanding the difference between reality and imagination by the time they reach 3-4 years of age. Their understanding of reality is going through the routine of the day, say, going to a birthday party, the playground and the other exciting things he does in the day. For him, fantasy would be cartoon characters, story books and when he does pretend play. However, if your toddler is fond of watching Spiderman and if an artist lands up in the costume of Spiderman at a birthday party, this is sure to confuse him.
Fantasy Empowers Too
The option of completely keeping your child away from fantasy is neither possible nor feasible. In fact, in many situations, pretend play helps a child build his creativity and overcome certain fears like that of falling and getting hurt. Of course, there isn’t any harm in keeping an eye on your child’s idea of what is fantasy. Encourage him to see the reality of things for the sake of caution. Tell him a superhero can jump forty floors, but in the real world, it could cause unimaginable injuries. Therefore, fantasy is equally important for a child as much as reality.
Helping Toddlers to Differentiate Reality from Fantasy
This difference can be shown best while playing with him or watching a movie. You can introduce the concept of acting and tell him that the actors on the television are pretend playing. You can also show another movie of the same actor in a different role to drive home your point. This will be a fun exercise and will make the concept of what is imaginary and what is crystal clear.
Watch Out for Symptoms
Caution needs to be exercised when fantasy stretches too far and the toddlers understanding of reality becomes warped. Symptoms of this could be if the child stops interacting with friends, constantly lives in his make-believe world, and has conversations with imaginary characters all the time. At this time, you may need to seek professional help.
Parents need to be cautious as well as sensitive while teaching toddlers about reality and fantasy. Do share with us your methods of dealing with this.