Play is not just “Child’s Play”
Have you ever been told your child was unsociable? How did you feel when you heard that? Did you also think the same thing and have been googling to see if your child was autistic? I certainly have been told numerous times by people including relatives that thought “there was something wrong” with #JasperBean or that he was “suffering from extreme shyness”. Playing with other children did not rank high on his lists of interests at all. Therefore, I should take him on more play dates to interact with his peers? Or *GASP*, have another baby so that he has someone to “play with”! Is his anti-social behaviour due to me not giving him a brother or sister? Hence he doesn’t know how to behave when there are other children around?
#JasperBean is 2-years-old and has many “friends” that are similar in age with him. We try to meet up on a regular basis to “socialise”. I’ve observed their play times and it’s clear that the children in his age group are quite happy to play alongside one another. Even when they are playing with the same toy, for example, building blocks, I notice they sometimes make a few attempts to actually play together. The majority of the time, there is little or no communication or interaction.
What are the benefits of Parallel Play?
- Language development
- Has your little one ever surprised you with a word or action that you have never seen or heard? Yep, they may have picked this up during parallel play when you thought they were just in their own little world minding their own business.
- Gross and fine motor skill development
- A simple action may actually require a complicated thought process.
- A simple action to you can be challenging for little ones that are still fine tuning their fine motor skills.
- Growing their personality and expressing their feelings
- Play doesn’t only teach a child how an item works or move, it also allows them to express their feelings and for you to see their personality shaping.
- When a child plays alone, they also don’t have to meet anyone else’s expectations and have the freedom to make up their own rules.
- Learning about social interactions and boundaries
- Parallel play may look like a child is playing alone and it may seem like they are very self centred. However they are observing others. It is this that preps and gives them a glimpse of what social interaction is and preparing them for group play. Regardless of the interaction being positive or negative, there is still something the child can learn.
- Learning to share
- Has your child ever snatched a toy from another child or thrown a hissy fit because they wanted what someone else had? This is all part of growing up, the child is learning about independence and assertiveness. Teaching and learning about the concept of “mine” is a vital step in understanding boundaries. Practice sharing at home so they can understand what trust is when playing with one another.
I am learning as I play. I am learning to enjoy and be successful in my work. Today I am a child and my work is play. Anita Wadley, 1974.
Our babies are watching us ALL the time, even when we don’t think they are! It’s amazing how their brains are soaking up everything in their environment, and parallel play demonstrates this perfectly. Just when you thought they were merely playing in their own little worlds, in actual fact they are simultaneously observing and listening as well. So mummies and daddies, aunties and uncles, grandpa’s and grandma’s, families and friends you better be careful and set good examples in what you say or do when you’re around little ones! No pressure! However, don’t feel guilty if you haven’t allocated specific time to spend with your child to play. Engage with them regularly in daily activities such as shopping, gardening, cleaning, chatting with others etc is a wonderful experience for them. Just never tell them to go away.
#JasperBean is very privileged to be growing up in a highly technological environment. He receives information from multifaceted channels whether I like it or not. As parents, we can get very busy and it’s easy to just give a child an iPad/iPhone to occupy their time. I’m not here to judge. But personally, I feel that it is very important especially in the first few years of life to limit this as much as possible. Encourage them to play because this is very important for their language and social development. Whether this is playing by themselves, with us, with or next to their peers, it doesn’t matter. Playing allows the child to learn at their own pace whilst having fun. Why not check out my post on Educational Toys Should be Fun, Not Just Educational.
Remember our younger days when we didn’t have much technology? We survived it! We had fun and we learnt from one another, from experience. That is why to a certain extent, I will let #JasperBean go off and look and touch at almost anything and everything, even if he ends up with scratches and bruises (daily!) and covers himself in Sudocrem (fact!) or tries to gel his hair with food (every meal), its ok!
So to everyone who has wondered whether they are living with a hermit, don’t worry. Go play and have fun! It’s ok for children to frequently engage in solitary play but if they always only play by themselves, then I would not hesitate to seek out expert opinion such as from their paediatrician or teacher etc.
Until next time…
Please note: I have an interest and previous professional background in Psychology and Sociology. Some readers may find this information and topic informative and interesting and I will try to include scientific research articles wherever possible. However some of the points I make represent my own views and understanding.
Anderson-McNamee, J. K., & Bailey, S. J. (2010). The importance in Early Childhood Development.
Santrock, J. (1999). Life-Span Dveelopment. New York: McGraw Hill, Inc.
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This is a brilliant resource I find my 4 year often does this, they can really pick up lots from watching others
Thank you for sharing! I have an 18 month old and he does parallel play whenever we have little playdates. I’m glad to know it is totally normal!
Children are definitely sponges taking in everything we do!!
This is an awesome post, my son is about 1 and a half and he may talk to us, but when it comes to others he is very shy. I’ve always been told I should keep a close eye on him, but I think he just likes to do things his way.
Totally relate to this! I used to teach playgroup classes (six months to three years) and can definitely vouch for children developing at their own pace. There’s so much time and there’s no such thing as ‘normal’. Rather than spend this period worrying that your child isn’t hitting the ‘right’ milestones, I wish more parents would just appreciate this time with their kids – it goes so fast!
Thanks for commenting and coming from someone who has had so much experience with kids as well! I agree, it’s so much more important to have quality time with our kids, it’s these moments that will stay with us forever!
Ive definitely noticed a difference in my older girls social development compared to the twins. The older girls had daycare from a very young age. The twins didnt. The twins however have eachother so their creative play with one another is really advanced as every second of their lives is a developmental opportunity,
Thanks for commenting! It’s great to hear your experience as you have experienced this first hand in and out of formal settings with a single child/with siblings and twins! It’s amazing how they all develop so differently. x
As a mom I feel, that most kids anyway indulge in parallel play. Most kids will eagerly wait for their friends and end up either arguing or doing their own thing. Plus, with so much overstimulation, self play is a better way to mindfulness.
This is a very interesting perspective! I thought my kids were too shy to play with others, but the idea of parallel play totally makes sense! Happy to hear that it’s normal!
Such an interesting read! I definitely learned from my older brother how to play by myself. I remember playing with dolls for hours on end. I think it’s great if kids can entertain themselves (without technology)!
Cheers, Sarah Camille // SCsScoop.com
I have written two blog posts on child led play #blogginggoodtime@_karendennis
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Thank you so much! I’m was so shocked when I read this and still can’t quite believe it! Your blog is amazing and that’s why you deserved the recognition, I can only hope that I can be as good as some of the blogs out there, including yours! I have followed you on Bloglovin! x
Fascinating to read, I’m a believer in good play and love the parallel play explanation. All kids develop different skills at different times, they are particularly remarkable things, they have so much to take on board all the time it’s no wonder they just watch!! Thank you for linking up to the #familyfunlinky
This is interesting, I’ll have to pass along this info to my sister-in-law. I admit that we have often drawn the conclusion that her boys were withdrawn in social environments with their peers, never heard of parallel play.
Each child develops differently depending on their surroundings, family and the level of social activity they’re involved in. Very interesting read. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky
People don’t realise how important play is for children’s development and it’s something that I always try to stress both on my blog and in real life too. There are so many ways to play and it’s not publicised enough. Love this post! #thatfridaylinky
This is a fantastic informative kids develop in their own time Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please
Playing is really essential for a child’s development part which can not be ignored. Overall development of child is directly proportional to playing.
That’s a really interesting article, I think my children often parallel play, I have seen them do it lots over the years. I think all children develop differently and do things at their own rate and to compare them to others can often make us feel worse, when we shouldn’t. Thank you for joining gus at #familyfun and thank you ever so much for your thoughtful comment you left on my post xx
This article is super interesting. Thank you. I look forward to the next article!
As someone who doesn’t have kids (or a developmental background), this is all so interesting to learn!
This is a very interesting post. I’m sure you will be able to help a lot of others who are interested in this topic. Thanks for sharing!
I currently don’t have kids but I can use this information for when I will as well as mYbe towards my 7 nieces & nephew.
Even if you don’t have kids, it’s a good piece of information to know as sometimes we do jump into conclusion too easily about other people. Sharing knowledge is one way we can combat early judgement. Please come visit again x
A really interesting post pack full of information
thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime
Glad to know that this is normal Play. Thank you for sharing your post!
Playing is the most important thing of child’s physical and mental development. I find my 2.5 year engaging in parallel pay which really helpful for her growing.
Hubby used to set up his toys and then sit and watch kids play with them… I think its so weird but then he is a Mortician now hahaha! Ben is the only child on hubby’s side of the family and doesn’t interact with kids much but he still plays with us adults and I know when it comes to nursery he’ll be fine as he is such a chilled out, easy going boy. #thatfridaylinky
Great post! Parallel play is important for Kidd’s development!
Interesting read! Great to learn these facts even though you are not a mom. Just helps to understand kids’ behaviors.
Thank you so much!! I really appreciate this and am glad that so many people can relate to it 😊