Getting your kids to play nicely in a group starts when they are young.
Parents all want the same thing: for their children to play with others and to be happy doing so. For some children, their social skills are brilliant and they find joining a group of kids to play as easy as drinking from their sippy cup!
However, for other children, it takes practice and some encouragement from their guardians. Getting your kids to play nicely in a group starts when they are young. The younger the better as they will grow up learning how to socialise and handle the usual politics in a play setting (robbing each other’s toys, for one).
Here are some things you should know about kids and how they can play nicely in a group:
Teach your child how to be empathic – This is vital as young kids don’t know how to be mindful of other feelings, so it is up to you to teach them. This begins at home with basic respect and care for people you meet in life. Your child will learn from you and if they observe you being kind to others while spending time with friends and family, they will follow suit. Show your child how to share and correct them when they behave badly or become selfish.
Show your kiddie how to play – Once your baby is responding to objects and beginning to catch things (in their hands) they are learning how to play. Once your child gets a little older, show them how to play blocks and take turns in building. This way your child will learn how to share and be mindful of others while you both have fun. This back and forth attitude means your child is already learning the importance of “give and take” while understanding why others are important when playing.
Start small – Instead of throwing your child into a group of several children and hoping for the best, perhaps, start with a small number of kids and let your child figure out where they fit. If your child has siblings or cousins, they may be well experienced in the art of playing and making friends however, other kids find their first friends at play centres or the creche. Play it safe and don’t force your child to make contact. In fact, most young kids play around each other at first instead of playing with each other. This is perfectly normal and in time, they begin to interact and play with one another.
Stay around – For those first important play meetings, it is vital that parents keep a watchful eye on their kiddies. Kids may like having you close by while others won’t care but having adults nearby means someone can pick up on any issues. Some kids will be anxious and when children are anxious, they can get mad or behave badly. Of course, this isn’t the child’s fault, but they will feel more relaxed with guardians nearby. Equally, your child may not want you watching them and encourage you to leave them be!
Accept disputes and learn from them – Most kids will have a dispute with another at some stage usually about someone taking a toy or hogging a toy so others can’t play with it. Don’t be the parent who ignores their kids’ misbehaviour because you don’t want to upset your child. In a play-setting, kids need to share and learn how to contribute and socialise with others. If your child is being unreasonable, let them know and correct them before returning them to play. Your child will learn how to play together nicely and fast once you help them along the way on etiquette. Keep working on it!
Emma Hayes is a thirty-something mum of two girls aged 16 and 10, planting her right into the teenage and tween-age years! Follow her on Twitter at @EmmaHayes25.