Did you know today is Snuffleupagus’s birthday! In honor of this awesome day we’ll share 10 things you probably didn’t know about Snuffleupagus, and we’ll also explore a little bit about why imaginary friends and imaginative play are an important step in your child’s cognitive development.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Snuffleupagus

I was looking all over the internet for Snuffleupagus factoids until I stumbled across a great HubPages post that had this awesome list already compiled. So, thanks HubPages! Click the link to read the list.

Imaginary Friends & Imaginative Play

As mentioned in point #3 above, when Snuffy first appeared on Sesame Street he could only be seen by Big Bird. He was Big Bird’s imaginary friend. From searching around online a little bit, it became pretty apparent that most parents are alarmed when their child starts playing with an imaginary friend. The experts, on the other hand, say not to worry about it. In fact, it’s probably a sign of a healthy imagination and a way for them to explore their widening world.
In her article When Your Child’s New Friend Is Imaginary, Dr. Anita Gurian explains:
An imaginary friend is usually nothing more than the product of a curious and creative mind figuring out how to make sense of the widening world. In fact, children who have active imaginations tend to develop into curious and creative adults.
Imaginary friends serve several useful purposes. They enable children to try out different relationships at a critical point in their social development. They allow children to explore issues of control, discipline, and power without the anxiety attached to interactions with real authority figures. For example, if you hear your young daughter scolding an imaginary friend, don’t automatically assume that you’ve been too harsh with her. The scenario may be your child’s imaginative way of trying to understand concepts of authority, right and wrong, and punishment. An imaginary friend can help your child cope with difficult emotions. For example, a child who spills a glass of milk may blame the imaginary friend as a way of dealing with his or her guilt—a perfectly normal strategy.
Imaginary friends are just one way you child might participate in imaginative play, but there are many others. As a parent or caregiver, it’s important to support and sometimes participate in their imaginative play. Here is an excerpt from Little Texans, Big Futures that explains why imaginative play is important for your child:
[I]mitation and make believe is the last component of the Cognitive Development domain. It includes indicators related to young children’s use of their imagination and play to imitate actions and experiment with different roles and ideas. Young children begin to learn new play actions through imitation, such as copying a caregiver when she makes a “moo” noise when holding a toy cow. As their imagination develops, toddlers begin to put pretend actions together in sequences to act out scenarios, such as taking care of a baby, making dinner, or going to the doctor’s office. Toddlers often need help from caregivers to expand their play in these ways. Toys that can be used as props in pretend play (for example, toy dishes and cook stove, baby dolls, doctor kit) help stimulate and enrich young children’s pretend play. As caregivers model and engage with young children in this kind of play, they support children’s development of vocabulary, imagination, and social interaction skills.
If you’d like more information about your child’s development, the Little Texans, Big Futures guidelines are a great place to start. Just Follow the link and download the PDF.
To summarize, imaginary friends like Snuffy and imaginative play are healthy cognitive developments. Encourage your children to use their imaginations and have fun playing with them and knowing that through this play you’re not just having fun but also helping them to learn and grow.