Encouraging Creative Play- But Mom, Tigers Don’t HAVE Rules!

TigersHave you ever had a conversation with your little Tiger, Doggy, Cat or Dragon that made you wonder if you were tarnishing their ability at imaginary play?

I totally encourage Baby Girl to play and use her imagination. However, I do still instill boundaries, because what is not acceptable when she is Baby Girl, still applies when she is a Tiger!

Baby Girl had decided she was a Tiger all morning this morning, she was roaring at Stuffed Animal Tigers, and carrying one around like her baby Tiger. I love watching her use her imagination and not only play creatively but also quite independently. 

When lunch time came around, I asked “Baby Girl Tiger” to clean up the toys and wash her hands for lunch. She did everything I asked, nicely, roared at herself in the bathroom mirror after she washed her hands, and then settled up at the table to eat. 

I served her lunch of Macaroni and Cheese and took residence beside her to eat mine. I was just lifting the fork to my mouth when I heard this terrible loud, smacking noise coming from my Baby Girl. I looked over and there she was, Macaroni and Cheese hanging out of her mouth, chunks flying everywhere and her making a terrible chewing sound while also managing to chew what was staying in her mouth… with her mouth OPEN. 


“Baby Girl,” I said. “We do not eat that way, you know better, that’s rude.” 

Baby Girl looked at me Surprised: “But Mommy!” She exclaimed. “I am a Tiger and that’s how Tigers eat.” 

I LOVE that she was using her imagination, but I just HAD to nip this in the bud now. She’s a smart girl and she will realize that if I allow her to do certain things, I wouldn’t otherwise allow, when she is being a “Tiger” or an “Elephant” or whatever she may want to be, she will start extending that to other activities and use it as an excuse to behave poorly, or get what she wants. Being a Tiger is not an excuse to be rude. I mean, Tigers probably don’t use a toilet to take a crap either…. so….. 

I very gently explained to her, that even if she was a Tiger she had to follow the rules. 


Oh yes they do, if they are in this house, they have rules! 

I explained to her that if there was a real Tiger that lived in this house, that Tiger would ultimately have rules and would have to follow the same ones that she does. I also explained that Mommy loves it when she plays and as long as she’s not being rude or hurting anyone etc, that she can play and have fun! That seemed to appease her for the time being and she went on to finish eating in the polite, nice way, I am used to. 

We will see what happens the next time she decides to be an Animal! She has a very awesome imagination when it comes to things like that, I think she gets it from her Father because he pretends to live in a barn quite often. 

Do you Think Boundaries and Creative Play go Hand in Hand?


  1. Jennifer (momvstheboys) on September 30, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    haha the visual on this is great, I can just see her tucking into that mac and cheese! boundaries, for tigers and little girls are a must!

  2. Nancy T on September 30, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Most definitely! Even with creative play there still need to be boundaries or those play karate chops or Tiger bites could hurt someone.

  3. Bonnie Way on September 30, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Yes, I’d totally enforce rules! Tigers still have to eat nicely at the table (or maybe take a break from being tigers and play again later). Tigers also can’t scare their little sisters by roaring loudly in their faces… 🙂 So yes, I try to encourage their creative play but also to make sure that they’re still respecting each other and house rules. (Very cute, btw!)

  4. Aeryn Lynne on October 1, 2014 at 12:25 am

    Awh, LOL, your daughter is adorable. 😀 The nephew is more interested in games instead of pretend right now, so I have no clue how we’d have handle it, but yes, definitely have reasonable boundaries in creative play. It may be “limiting” in the general sense, but these boundaries aren’t necessarily impediments to their creativity. *shrugs*

  5. Maya Fitz on October 1, 2014 at 12:39 am

    I believe you did the right thing. She’s a smart cookie and she was probably testing the boundaries with you. She will continue to use her imagination, don’t you worry mom. You did the right thing! Good for you for sticking to your guns 🙂

  6. Pam on October 1, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Imaginative play is such an important part of development, and I also think it is so vital that we are teaching them as they play and learn. She’s such a cutie, Jenn!

Leave a Reply