Much has been said lately about the importance of play to children’s development. Dramatic play is no different. When they use their imagination, they try out new roles, work through experiences, problem solve and learn how to maintain self-control. When a preschooler stacks blocks, he is discovering how different shapes and sizes can be balanced to build a structure, whereas a toddler role-playing as a doctor as she “fixes” her “sick” stuffed friends allows her to understand the world around her.

But what happens when that stack of blocks gets knocked down or a “patient” finds their way into another child’s hands? DRAMA ensues! Tears are flowing, hands are flailing and mouths are screaming. You, as the child care provider, jump in to take action, but as you do…


  • Are all the children involved safe from harm?
  • What was observed BEFORE the behavior occurred?
  • Could the incident have been avoided?
  • Are the children’s reactions developmentally appropriate?
  • Is my approach to the situation going to help children gain trust and problem-solve a solution?

What Else Can be Done?

  • Assess the environment to ensure set up promotes interactive and successful dramatic play experiences.
  • Reflect on personal experiences and emotional hotspots that may contribute how you react to situations.
  • Encourage children to NAME their emotions…happy, sad, frustrated, angry, etc.
  • Include the children involved in the incident in coming up with a solution to resolve the situation.
  • Partner with parents and families to reinforce positive behaviors at child care and at home.

By embracing the DRAMA that can occur during dramatic play experiences, you will help a child learn how to develop self-control and interact with peers and adults appropriately. CCR&R Child Care Consultants can offer support when challenging behaviors occur. Contact your consultant here. Additional resources to share with parents and families include the Backpack Connections available on the Technical Assistance Center on the Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children (TACSEI) website here.


Tags: drama , social-emotional development , self-control , dramatic play

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