Interaction with Other Children

"Chapter 18" By: Abby Timm-Haworth


When children of several ages are together, toddlers usually watches other toddlers. Toddlers are often overwhelmed by large numbers of people. One or two other toddlers are usually enough for a play group or birthday party. At age 3, children usually play next to each other rather than with each other. There is little of no interaction or cooperation. Parents and caregivers should keep this in mind and not try to force children at this age to play directly with each other. Four year olds' language and social skills have developed to the point where children of this age begin playing with each other. This stage of play requires the use of words to exchange ideas and the ability to plan activities. At about age 9, playmates tend to separate themselves by gender.

Making Friends:

Friendships is a new and important experience for many 4 and 5 year olds. Some 3 years say they have lots of friends, they may even have imaginary ones. By age 4 or 5, children tend to single out one or two of their peers as "Best Friends." By age 8, most children deliberately select their own friends. Children choose other children as friends because they like them. At a young age sometimes friendship may be short-lived, but for now the children this age enjoy their special relationship. In high school, most teenagers have a small group of close friends. Teenage groups often serve as a miniature society, with leaders and followers, power struggles, and check and balances. Many adolescents tend to conform to the style, behavior, and expressed opinions of their friends. This happens around the age of 13 to 15. Older teenagers begin to develop their own individuality and sense of identity. Friendships generally occur between children who have something in common. Parents of children who have trouble making friends can encourage them to join a group such as a sports team or a club. Many community and religious organizations have special youth groups.

Taking Turns and Sharing:

Playing with others encourages the development of two important social skills: taking turns and sharing. Taking turns refers to getting equal chances to do something. Sharing is more complex social skill. The idea of sharing encourages generosity as opposed to selfishness. It includes a feeling of concern and respect for another person. This feeling makes one child care about letting another child have or use something they both want. Sharing is harder than taking turns. Children who feel secure and satisfied share voluntarily.

Learning to Share:

To teach children to share, adults must help children feel good about themselves. Parents should let children make decisions about what toys they want to share and which ones they would rather not share. When you see children sharing you should encourage them makes them feel proud of themselves. Children learn to share more easily if they play in small groups and get to know each other.

Sharing possessions:

Helping toddlers learn that their possessions are indeed theirs, parents con provide each child with a place to store his or her own clothes and toys. Sometimes a child objects when parents want to pass certain toys down to a younger child. They should respect such feelings and allow the child to make the decision about giving up a toy.

Cooperation and Competition:

Four years olds begin to cooperate with each other as they play. Their developing language skills allow them to negotiate with each other about toys and types of games to play. They are learning to share and not to hurt each other's feelings. Cooperative games, in which everyone has a chance to succeed, provide opportunities to learn and excel.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Competition:

Competition encourages children to do their best. Those who try hard and take risks may find themselves rewarded. They have a good feeling about being the best at something. Young children are still developing their skills and abilities. Developing their special talents and abilities, older children are preparing for the competition in the adult world.

Managing Competition:

Parents and caregivers can help children manage competition. Children should not be made to feel that they must always win, They need to learn how to lose comfortably and graciously. Competition often develops between siblings. Parents should avoid comparing siblings with each other. Social skills such as listening, sharing, encouraging and resolving conflicts are necessary for the group work to succeed.