The brain of a young child is known to develop rapidly, and the study of early childhood development examines ways in which children’s brains can develop in the best way possible. Interestingly, human children have the most creative ability to imagine and play. Other living things also play around, but their play is limited in its creativity. Puppies may pretend to play like their adult parents, but puppies are not cognitively able to pretend and play as a cat, Superman, or Bruce Willis. Human children often take on various roles in order to play through an imaginary situation. This has been shown to be very important for children’s cognitive development.
The ability of a child to be able to hypothesize various situations that have not happened is the main benefit of play. When children are able to pretend to be Spiderman or a monster, they are expanding the neural passageways in the brain that are responsible for creativity and flexible thinking.
The brain of a child is often able to ignore certain biases that are learned throughout life. Adults are not so flexible. The adult brain has spent a lifetime learning certain behaviors, and these foundational thoughts are difficult to will away quickly. They are rules of life; some were learned early on in life, and others were absorbed through the surrounding environment. The brain works this way in order to minimize the chance of something unpleasant happening. Convenience is what the brain automatically is attracted to. This is largely due to the fact that the brain wants to conserve energy and the cognitive workload. When the brain goes back to something it knows to be reliable, it feels comforted. It often takes a concerted effort to peel away this type of thinking. Understanding why the brain is attracted to routine can be helpful for those who are trying to break away from such thinking.