Do Toddlers Really Understand “Fake” and “Pretend?”

The more I try to understand my toddler, the less I can make sense of what she does and thinks.

Kids her age are really getting to be pros at pretend play, and that’s awesome. Give her a stick, and it’s a wand and she’s acting as a sorceress. Give her a blanket and she’s made a beautiful ball gown out of it, ready to head to the castle ball.

Yet how can she simultaneously understand the meaning of “fake” and “pretend?”

She told me recently she was “pretend eating” her play kitchen food set out as a picnic. Then later she asked where her fake wand was.

Do all toddlers get that they’re only pretending? Is their imagination so strong that they can temporarily suspend the truth?

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