Whether it’s playing with toys, sticking their elbows in their tee shirts to imitate a t-rex, or digging for fossils in the backyard, many children love dinosaurs. For most children, this interest fades over time, but Dr. Arthur Lavin, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on the Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health explains to CNN why young children have such an affinity for these ancient creatures.
Between 18 months and three years, children begin to develop a sense of self but tend to still be confused about their place and purpose. This search for a sense of self is what drives children to engage in imaginary play. You’ve likely been with a child who has asked you to play pretend. This is because imaginary play allowed children to act out scenarios depicting how they fit into the world.
The incorporation of imaginary creatures, such as fairies, dragons, and dinosaurs, fits into this make believe world. Children often focus on dinosaurs specifically because extinct species hold the intrigue of a past world on earth.
You might have also noticed that some children love to memorize the complex names of different dinosaurs. Lavin notes that this is easier for children than adults because their developing brains are used to learning new words every day.
If a child in your life loves dinosaurs, hopefully, this article offers more insights into the science behind the obsession. If you want to help your child explore this interest more, here is a list of resources for dinosaur loving children.
Natural History Museum – Dinosaur activities for families
American Museum of Natural History – Dinosaurs