Observe the child engaged in dramatic play with dolls or zoo animals or other toys that might elicit emotions.
Observe what the child does spontaneously first. Ask questions if needed, “Why is your baby crying?”
The child may pretend to sleep himself or be nurturing to the doll. With the zoo animals, the child may make the animals roar and say they are mad. The lions and tigers may fight each other.
Help early childhood educators and parents understand that dramatic play allows young children to experiment with emotions or emotions they have witnessed in a safe environment. They can pretend to be different people to feel happy, sad, mad, or scared in a safe environment. Dramatic play is just emerging at this age, so early childhood educators parents should encourage it by providing props and materials and by not judging the actions or feelings the child performs in the play. In play children are learning how to control feelings. The adult can play a complementary role to help the child explore feelings.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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