kids with developmental delays

'My baby is already speaking! And he is just ten months old. My little genius.' 

Most probably, at least once in your life, you have heard proud parents bragging about their kid like that. The most important thing here is to stop comparing your children to someone else since all kids develop their skills at different rates. 

Developmental delay isn't always the parents' fault; it can be caused by things beyond their control. If children get early treatment, they will be able to catch up without any serious consequences. That's why it's essential to seek professional help in case your kid is falling behind in mental, physical, or emotional growth. 

At first, you should understand what type of delay your little one has. There are many areas, including speech and language, social, thinking, emotional, and motor skills. Secondly, ask your healthcare provides to refer your kid to several specialists (neurologist, hearing specialist, and developmental pediatrician). 

Keep in mind that your child is not able to outgrow their problem without your help. Psychologists and pediatricians recommend teaching children with developmental delays through pretend play. 

Children like imaginative play - they can spend hours pretending that their dolls can speak, that their plastic playground is a castle or that carpet in the living room is covered with lava. Also, the opportunity to play and use imagination can encourage healthy development. Let's explore how the pretending process can benefit your kid:

Social development

Have you ever seen kids playing mothers and daughters? That's the way they try different social roles. Don't hesitate to pretend to be a kid and ask your little one to take care of you in order to improve their empathy. During the game, you can guide them and explain to them how social relationships work. 

Also, you can use toy action figures and dolls to teach your child how to interact with other people in different situations. It will help your kid to develop social cues by experimenting with mixed emotions, tones, and eye contact. As you can understand, pretend game makes it easier for kids to face new real-life situations.

Language development

When you play with your little one, make sure to use new words in order to expand their vocabulary. The best way to do that is to role-play different social situations.

Eventually, children will want you to play by their rules. However, they will have to structure their thoughts and explain to you what they exactly want.

It's important to mention the fact that pretend play can also reinforce your kid's understanding of innuendo and lies. Let your children know that people don't always mean what they say (unfortunately).

Thinking skills

Pretend play can also provide your kids with tons of problems to solve.

'My Barbie has nothing to wear!'
'What is the right material to make a roof for my playhouse?'
'How to teach my stuffed animals to speak?'

Of course, adults don't understand the magnitude of a child’s problem. They have bills to pay, apartment to clean, and dinner to cook… For a moment, forget about your burden and spend time thinking of what Barbie is going to wear for a party tonight. Before you start suggesting, ask your kid how they want to solve the problem. Let them be creative since this kind of play can help develop your child's cognitive thinking skills and frontal lobe (the part of the brain that regulates behavior). 

How to pretend?

To help your child with developmental delay, you should act like a kid and create a stress-free environment. Open and nurture your imagination. According to the latest study, reclaiming a childlike sense of wonder can improve an adult's mental health. 

To help your child improve language, thinking, and social skills, use some props. For instance, you can dress up to play police officers, nurses, or firefighters. Or, you can inspire your little one to build a house out of cardboard box. 

Your main task is to excite your kid. For example, you can go to the park, take a beach umbrella, and pretend that you are on vacation. Or, send your kid on a secret mission (to grandmother's house, basically).

If your child can speak just a little bit, you can play 'guess what this thing can do' game. Give your kid different items ann ask them how they can use it, encourage them to come up with as many ideas as possible and suggest yours as well. 

The bottom line

There is no strict timetable when it comes to a child's development. Some kids start walking and speaking very fast; while others take their time. If you suspect that your kids have developmental delays, take necessary measures as soon as possible. Consider teaching them how to be more social, empathetic, and creative through pretend play. Daily activities can help your kid to develop cognitive, emotional, speech, and gross motor skills.