Why your kid’s dark pandemic play is normal—and healthy

Throughout history, children have used pretend play to cope during challenging times.

When the pandemic first began, ambulance sirens pealed around the clock in Lela Moore’s Brooklyn neighborhood. To help her vehicle-obsessed three-year-old, Ned, understand the situation, they began reading books about first responders and other emergency workers.

“The refrain in the book was ‘Help is on the way,’” Moore says, which helped explain to Ned that sirens meant someone was being helped. The two would clap as the engines sped by.

As the weeks passed, Moore noticed that when Ned played with his fire or other rescue trucks, he’d repeat ‘Help is coming, it’s on the way!’ gather his Lego people, and clap for the trucks as they passed.

Ned is not the only kid making sense of the pandemic with pretend play. Parents,

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