Playtime with other kids is necessary for the normal development of your child. Through playing, kids acquire important tools for life. These tools will help them to acquire new friends and maintain social relationships. It is important that you visit the playground so that your child can enjoy playing with others. Pay attention to the environment of your house and make it safe for play time. Teach your child how to play nicely with other kids, and remember – it is not a lesson that is learned in a day.
It is very important to create opportunities for play. Invite other kids to your home or set a playdate at other friends' houses. Sometimes it helps to know in advance what the other kids like to do so that everyone will enjoy the time they spend together.
Make sure that the children have a safe environment at home while playing, but try not to interfere unless they ask for your help – let them try and solve themselves the problems that arise.
Children at this age find it very difficult to understand someone else’s point of view, so it is natural that sometimes you might encounter an aggressive behavior. There is no need to react extremely or to be worried. Remember, this behavior doesn’t aim to hurt others. When this situation happens, try to talk to your child and explain the other side’s point of view. This way a valuable lesson will be taught. It is always best to encourage good behavior by positive reinforcements, rather than punishment for bad behavior. The most important thing you can do is set an example for your child – children see everything and learn quickly!
Besides indoor playing, take your child outside to play more sportive games. Remember, a child needs to master basic motor skills before he can use them for play. Children by the age of two rely mainly on their vision, but by the age of three, the development of the brain and inner ear take a major part in the development of motor skills. This transition can cause a temporary hold back in the child’s coordination towards the ages of 4-5 years. Sometimes you might see the child focused on maintaining balance, which could slow his development in other fields. With time, actions like jumping and running become simpler. You should try to match the game to the child’s age and his abilities, including the choice of the ball, court and play time.
It is important to remember that every child develops and acquires new abilities at a different pace than others. Although there is a great difference between every child, there are some things your child should be able to do by the age of four, and if you notice a gap in these abilities you should consult your pediatrics. These abilities include:
1. Throwing a ball
2. Jumping in the same spot
3. Riding a tricycle
4. Holding a writing implement between the thumb and the fingers
5. Drawing a circle
6. Building a tower from four cubes
7. Showing interest in interactive games
8. Responding to people that aren’t members of the family
9. Composing sentences with three words and more
10. Knowing how to properly use of the words “I” and “you”
You should also consult your pediatrician if your child does the following things on a regular basis:
1. Cries or clings to the parents whenever he is left alone
2. Ignores other children
3. Avoids getting dressed, sleeping or going to the bathroom
Last updated: May 2017
Authors - Judah Freedman BA MED, Dr. Yair Sadaka MD Ph.D., pediatrician, Pediatric neurologist