Pretend You Like Me - Thinkprint

Delivery Method: 

Children sometimes encounter resistance when attempting to join an ongoing pretend play episode. The negotiated features of collaborative pretend play (roles, props, scripts) are vulnerable to the introduction of a new participant. Naturally, children are cautiously protective of established play interactions. To their credit, many children learn to treat this initial resistance as an opportunity to invent clever strategies for gaining entry into the play.

In this Thinkprint, five-year-old Miles tries to enter the play of two five-year-old girls, Jacey and Hannah. This is a classic example of "May I play with you?" Hannah and Jacey are pretending to be puppies. Watch how Miles uses pretense in order to gain acceptance into the girls’ play. He recognizes Hannah as the leader of the play, and works to establish communication with her by making his body level with hers, gently tapping her shoulders, moving his body so as to align his gaze with hers, and by saying, “Pretend you like-a-me too, okay? Pretend you like-a-me too.” Rather than asking Hannah to like him in real life, Miles resourcefully requests that she merely pretend to like him as part of the script. Without overtly rejecting Miles, Hannah continues moving her body like a puppy chasing its tail, before talking to Jacey. Patiently, Miles listens as the girls discuss their roles. There is a pause in their conversation and Miles uses this opportunity to renew his request by again asking, “Pretend you like-a-me too, okay?” Do you think Hannah will decide to be a benevolent leader and grant his request?

This Thinkprint invites us to study the details surrounding how children negotiate the rules of play. By doing so, we can support them as they become aware of—and further develop—social consciousness.

Keywords: Fives, Puppets, Child-Child, Maintaining Play, Leadership, Power, Thinkprint

Length of Thinkprint: 21 paragraphs, 19 video subclips

Length of stand-alone master video clip: 6 minutes, 39 seconds