Before the age of three children will often be seen playing next to one another but not really interacting in combined games. Around the age of three and four this begins to change and the children will start interacting with one another more readily, rather than sticking to what is known as parallel play. This play develops over time as they start to imitate one another, plan games and share their toys together.
Often children show aggression to one another, which can be seen as disruptive when in fact it is just a child trying to become involved with the play. It takes a while for children to learn the correct way of being included, but the skills will develop in time as they quickly learn that snatching toys away or crashing into the group very rarely works.
Golden Bear Tips on Encouraging Interactive Play
You can help to encourage your child interact by teaching them how to take turns. Other ways of encouraging cooperation in play include:
- Having two or more very similar toys to avoid confrontation and arguments.
- Keeping play dates short, try sticking to around half an hour. As soon as you see that either of the children may be getting tired or irritable end the play and start all over again on another day.
- Get down and join in with the games and teach negotiation through play. You can suggest ideas for games that have a shared goal such as building a tower or completing a puzzle.
- Keep an eye on the play and step in when you see that one child is becoming slightly aggressive in the play. You can cause a distraction and guide the play into something more positive.
- Never force your child into interactive play, they will move at their own pace. Give your toddler the opportunity to get used to the environment and the people and avoid pushing the interactive play.
Some children may seem more outgoing than others. Those with siblings may find it easier to move from parallel play with friends compared with only children, but they are all different and will adapt in their own time.
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