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:
- Think Creativity Over Mess – Most of us like to keep the house neat and tidy, but that can mean we are hiding away vital playthings. Children don’t see mess, they see a stimulating environment full of tools to help them be creative. Adopting this view should help us leave out toys and craft supplies more easily, even at times when we struggle to see nothing but mess.
- Embrace Mistakes – If you child makes a mistake when you are playing a game together online, or bulging something in the real world, don’t tell them or fix it straight away. Let them figure it out for themselves. Ask them why they are correcting it in the certain way. Help to support and not direct, it will help build resilience and a growth mindset.
- Be Silly – Children like seeing parents being silly. Choose a real-life or imaginary person, film or TV character together and play it out with your child. Funny voices, mimicry and physical actions help children flex their imagination and story telling abilities and helps you explore emotions together and better get to know your child’s world.
- Plan a Family Playdate and Keep It – Children love having something to look forward to, so plan a family playdate together, even if its just 15 minutes before dinner. Let them call the shots by choosing layout, snacks, games to play or movies to watch. Planning the date themselves will encourage them to be creative and train their decision making skills.
- Gamify Chores – We all have to do chores, even kids, but they don’t have to be boring. A simple way to make them more fun is just to put on some music and turn dusting or folding into a dance party. Or add an element of competition by trying to beat the clock as you all join in to clear away the dishes, turning chores into precious bonding time.