What is social play for children?

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Play helps kids learn social skills
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Social play for children is learning by interacting and engaging with others

Babies and children learn volumes when they play alone, but they learn other important lessons and skills when they play with others. What is social play for children? It is the interaction of a child with his parents and others.

When a child engages with others, he learns to share, how to cooperate and listen and how to cope with frustration because he isn’t always going to get his way.

The child also learns compassion and when it is necessary for him to speak up and take a stand. When children interact they learn from each other and they develop social skills, which are necessary if an individual is going to be healthy and successful in life.

Engaging with other kids teaches children how to negotiate, cooperate, take turns and to play by the rules. These are all important lessons and skills that the youngster will use his entire life. Playing with others is the first means of learning about the rules and roles of society.

Young people that have good people skills, as well as stable emotional health, fair better in school because they have learned how to establish relationships with other people. Good social skills are the result of interacting with others.

Play is essential for a child’s social development as well as the development of his personality.


When a child plays by himself, this is solitary play, which is vital to the young person's development.


However, when he and others are engaging they learn to “cooperate.” If, for example, the kids are playing cowboys and Indians, each child needs to know if he is a cowboy or Indian and what his role is. This is considered cooperative playing. Roles can be determined through negotiation, costumes and props and imagined scenarios.


When one child observes another child playing and then emulates what that other child is doing this is called character play.


Associative play is another form and it occurs when kids decide, for example, that they are dogs. All of them pretend to be dogs but there aren’t any rules or specific roles. This is not a highly organized activity.


Parallel play takes place when kids are playing with the same resources (e.g., paints, paint brushes and paper) but work autonomously. The children may talk to one another while painting but each kid is doing his own thing.

Interacting with others teaches youngsters how to be accommodating and adaptable which allows that child to adapt to various situations that he is going to encounter throughout his life.

Those who learn how to play and do it effectively continue to do so throughout their lives. This is not an extravagance, it is essential for the well being of a human, just as eating, sleeping and exercising are necessary.

When children (and adults) play they connect with others and usually have a congenial and beneficial experience. This relieves stress and it a great way to learn. It's good for the brain.

When a person plays he learns, he creates and he may be challenged, which is good. Spending time with others is fun and everyone needs to have fun.


The benefits of play are enormous. The individual learns how to be creative, becomes more curious and this encourages discovery. There is a feeling of camaraderie; regardless of whether the child knows the other people he is romping with. It is hard to feel lonely when you are engaging with others.

Through play, kids learn to trust others and, very importantly, all about give and take, which is something an individual needs to know, and accept, in his adult life. Play requires that youngsters communicate and it teaches them teamwork.

When engaging with others, a child learns to follow the rules that have been agreed upon and this is a vital life lesson.

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