With a child’s imagination, blankets, pillows, and couch cushions can quickly turn into something magical: a fort.
As kids get older, this desire to have a quiet, secret space doesn’t go away; older children often venture outside to build dens and other fort-like structures.
But these creative, secret spaces are more than just a fun hide-out according to the experts. Kids love forts not only because they can be anything they want them to be. They also love them for the safe, cozy feeling they provide too.
Why Forts are So Important to Kids
My six-year-old loves my help when it comes to setting up the fort. But when it’s time to crawl in?
“No parents allowed!” she tells me. During quiet time, she — along with her younger brother — set up their fort with pillows, blankets, books, and their favorite toys. It’s where they go when they need space, to relax, and to just process their feelings.
“Kids make sense of the world through play. In quarantine, all our needs are amplified… Whatever kids create in their imaginative world feels safe and predictable to them. It’s like, ‘Every time I go into this fort, it will be just like I left it.”
But it’s not just about play either. The dark, private spaces take away a lot of stimulation so kids can slow down and regulate both their bodies and emotions. They feel safer there too. They can see out, but you can’t (always) see in.
The other thing, as my daughter likes to remind me? She’s in charge of the fort. I’m only allowed in if she gives me permission… and you know what? These forts are her space (and her brother’s), so I’m okay with that.
Forts give kids a sense of control in a world where they don’t have much control, and that is a beautiful thing.
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