I WANT TO PLAY WITH MOM & DAD
but not too much!
PREVIOUS: Children & Play (Part 1)
DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES of Play (cont.)
6. Cooperative Play
When children focus on a joint effort rather than on themselves, bringing together all of the social skills they’ve been working on and put them into action. Play is organized to: make a tangible object, reach a competitive goal, dramatize situations of adult & group life, or play formal games. At this level there’s usually one clear leader, play is structured, & they work together toward a common goal. This can cause conflicts, but can be resolved quickly.
Co-op Play allows mastery of important new social skills:
• Obeying rules: Most want very much to win, even if it means cheating
• Negotiating: Must learn to give as well as take, to compromise on what they want – hard to accept when you’re the ‘center of the universe’.
• Sharing: When little ones want something, the thought of giving it up to someone else is almost unbearable. It’s made harder by the confusing use of ‘share’ – some things you’ll get back (a toy) some things you won’t (a cookie).
• Taking turns: their desires are urgent and immediate. “I want it NOW.” Delay gratification is required, & being able to imagine what it’s like being the other children. Empathy already learned (hopefully at home) and during parallel play will help.
> This stage may be seen in younger pre-schoolers as well, if they have older siblings or around a lot of other children
• 4 – 6 years : They plays cooperatively, take turns & may enjoy table-top games. Start to understand & use symbols (for writing and reading).
Are more able to reason & figure out their experiences. Begin to understand simple rules in games.
• 6 – 8 years : They like to play with children of their own gender. Enjoy playing co-operative games in small groups and making up their own games with rules, but don’t usually cope well with losing.
ACoA INVENTORY re. Play Stages
IMP: Always start from the position that you are not deficient, even if the WIC doesn’t believe it, yet – but rather how you were raised.
Using Part 1 & 2, WRITE what you can about your play history. With the limitations & stressors of your childhood in mind:
• List what you did get to do at each stage, what you missed out on, & how each one turned out / affected you. How did each kind feel?
• Given your present-day patterns, are you struggling with one or more?
• Identify if & how you’ve added healthy playing to your life in the course of Recovery (review the DEF of Play).
Parents are a child’s first and favorite playmate, & playing with them makes the child feel important & valued. At the same time, parents shouldn’t be their child’s only ‘toy’ (symbiotic attachment), as it would prevent learning to socialize with their peers. Kids greatly benefit from independent play, & they often prefer to do things with peers because most adults forget how to really ‘let go’. Supervision if important for guidance & safety, but hovering is boundary invasive, & controlling how the child plays (goals & rules) inhibits their development – and fun.
• Children often imitate adult behaviors during play, both good or bad, learning how to be a grownup. It’s absolutely essential that children are allowed to become autonomous – not thru neglect but with balanced guidance. Loving support & play gives them a chance to become independent, self-directed & self-sufficient. Without that opportunity, it’s much harder for adults to develop these traits, to keep themselves entertained in healthy ways, or to be playful with their own children.
• successfully form a special bond with their children
• get to know & understand their child’s interests, emotions, way of thinking (processing info) & learning style (visual, auditory, tactile…)
• help the child process/vent emotional frustrations it may not be able describe verbally yet, but can re-enact in play or story form
• encourage experimenting and allowing mistakes. Learning is a process not an outcome!
• see how their child reacts to success, failures and obstacles, & help them deal with disappointment or loss
• teach the values parents find important, that will influences the child’s attitudes & behavior at home, in school & with peers
• have a chance to relax, too. Active involvement in a child’s imaginary world lets adults forget the stress of the real world and enjoy the ‘now’.
Parental Roles (by David Fernie)
Create a playful atmosphere. It is important for adults to provide materials which children can explore and adapt in play.
Play with children when it is appropriate, especially during the early years. If adults pay attention to and engage in children’s play, children get the message that play is valuable.
Value children’s play and talk to children about their play. Adults often say “I like the way you’re working,” but rarely, “I like the way you’re playing.”
When play appears to be stuck or unproductive, offer a new prop, suggest new roles, or provide new experiences, such as a field trip.
Intervene to ensure safe play. Even in older children’s play, social conflicts often occur when children try to negotiate. Adults can help when children cannot solve these conflicts by themselves (Caldwell, 1977). Adults should identify play which has led to problems for particular children. They should check materials and equipment for safety. Finally, adults should make children aware of any hidden risks in physical challenges they set for themselves.
ARTICLES: Re. Involvement – “Parents’ Roles in Child Play”
Against – “Leave those kids alone!” The idea that adults should be playing with their kids is a modern invention — and not necessarily good
Rebuttal – “Should Parents Play With Their Children?”
NEXT: Play EXPERTS (Part 1)