Let’s be honest, we all want our children to get along perfectly with our friend’s children and their playmates. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Children between the ages of 2 to 5 initially have trouble playing well with others and it’s very common for some children to not learn how to share until they are 3 or 4. At these ages, children still believe that everything is “mine” and while they may enjoy being together with other children at times, they’re often not ready to handle all the newness of relationships. So how can we, as parents, set our children up for success so they can play nicely with others as they continue to age and develop?
Here are some helpful tips for teaching your child to play well with others:
- Challenge Your Mindset – Start by challenging the way you think. Play is not the lazy choice. The benefits of play are profound for children, families and society. Believe in them and commit to making play a priority, be it in the physical, digital or both worlds.
- Encourage Free Play – The less structured and supervised play is, the more rewarding children find it. Give a few inspirational directions but let children direct the action. Free, self directed play empowers children, so they develop confidence, autonomy and self esteem.
- Kick-start With Physical Play – A small amount of physical play can help parents get into the right mindset for play, especially after a long day at work. Just ten minutes of an activity that gets hearts pumping and creates laughter helps families to connect in a way that is fundamental to family play.
- Variety is Key – There are many ways to play : physical, creative, emotional, social, digital and cognitive. Balance and variety is essential to develop a breadth of skills. Encourage your child to pick from a menu of multi-sensory play activities, active social play, online storytelling played out in real life, critical thinking and puzzle games, fantasy and constructive play.
- Go With The Flow – Flow is a psychological state we got to when we play well. We become highly creative, lose sense of time and experience deep contentment and learn most easily. When play starts to unfold easily and effortlessly, note what you were doing, then do more of it next time you play.