As children mature and develop, both mentally and physically, the way they play develops along with them. As a parent, it’s important to make sure you know what stage your child is on, that you know how they play and what you can do to facilitate their playtime.
Knowing how to adapt their play means knowing how different age groups interact with their toys and with other kids. Make sure you know what stage your child is at and how you can enhance their playtime to make the most of it. Understanding the different ways play changes as a child grows older is necessary to keep up with their development, ensuring they’re where they should be.
From Birth To Three Months Old
During the first few months of their lives, children don’t do much besides wriggling around on the floor, moving their arms and legs without much purpose. At this stage, their little bodies can’t do much more than that; the bones are too soft and the muscles are too weak to support their bodies for anything besides laying down.
Luckily, while their movements don’t seem to accomplish much, this constant free movement does serve a valuable purpose. Your child’s constant arm and leg movement during their first few months acquaint them with their own body; they grow accustomed to how movement works.
This time allows them to, in a sense, practice how to move their bodies, getting them ready to crawl, walk, and eventually run around with others. Play around with their arms and legs, offering some minimal resistance, to help them develop those essential motor skills.
How You Can Help Them Play
As mentioned, the most you can do is play with their arms and legs. At this stage, kids will be relatively inactive, so the most beneficial thing you can do is go along with their little movements.
From Three Months Old To Two Years Old
When their bodies finally start to develop physically, and they can move around on their own, you may notice that they don’t play around with others. Many commonly refer to this as the “solitary” stage of their play development. They’re not ready to go around playing with other children, they may prefer to stay by themselves and play on their own, but this can quickly lead to the “onlooker” stage.
By being a spectator, your child may watch other children play but probably won’t engage with them. This is normal; they choose to observe others rather than join in. This socialization process can teach them how others play, allowing them to know how they should act when the time comes to play with other children.
2 To 3 Years Old
The next stage you can expect your child to move to is the “parallel play” stage. This is when children play the same games in the same general area as one another but don’t interact with each other just yet. This stage emphasizes the proximity kids have with one another, that they get physically closer together, doing the same activities, but separate themselves.
There’s no cause for alarm if your child doesn’t seem interested in playing with others; just make sure they play in the general vicinity as others. This gets your kids used to the idea of being around others, that being in a group is okay and that it’s safe. Make sure they get comfortable with the prospect of being around others; this is an important step in their socialization process.
How You Can Help Them Play
Kids will be far more active now, and you’ll need to get them some simplistic toys to play around with. These can be building blocks to help them develop some problem-solving skills. It also keeps them intellectually and creatively engaged in their little building projects. You should also strive to expose them to kids their own age, making sure they have that necessary time to get used to being around others.
3 To 4 Years Old
This is the point where you may see more interaction with other kids, that not only are they in the same area but also play with one another. There may still be some limits to their level of interaction, that your kids probably won’t be fully invested in the play with other kids, but it’s a start.
Children learn to be more social at this stage, more willing to go around with others, see what they may be doing, and join in the same activity. You may still notice some distance between the children; they may not be starting up strong friendships, but this will soon lead to significantly more interaction.
4 Years Old
At this stage, your kid should play with others their own age, talking and sharing in the same activities. While it can be normal for kids to want to play by themselves from time to time, it’s at this stage that they should be interacting with others more often than not.
This stage, commonly referred to as “cooperative play,” is the final result of the previous several years of development. They should participate in more complex games, toys, and have serious social interactions with others, forming bonds and friendships.
How You Can Help Them Play
When your kids get to the age of 4-years-old, this is when they will need more complex toys for play. At this age, they’ll start developing interests and have favorite TV shows, so it’s important to get them some playthings from those shows. A popular toy for children at this stage is Super Wings transforming toys. These toys offer the chance for kids to play with them as well as give them some variety due to being able to transform the toy’s appearance.
Know What Your Child Needs
Knowing the different ways kids play as they grow up is essential to keeping up with their development. Observe the habits your child has and see if that links up with their current developmental stage. Don’t be afraid if they don’t seem interested in playing with others at first; it’s just their way of getting accustomed to other kids. Give them the opportunity to grow on their own and supplement their development with the little things you can do to enhance their playtime.