From a very young age children must learn to play and interact with other children. One of the first social lessons we, as parents, have to teach our children is to share toys with others. Most children don't like others to touch their toys, and tears and tantrums often ensue if they do. It is up to us therefore, to encourage our children to play and share happily with others.
There are many activities we can provide to help our children have fun whilst learning how to play well with others.
Encourage the children to play together with musical instruments'. A tin, or upside-down saucepan for a drum, a tin with dried beans in to shake, or rubber bands around a box to make a harp, all these things are easy to make. Children love making a noise and will happily make a noise together!
Art is another way to gently introduce your child to sharing. Sit the children down with a large sheet of paper each and a selection of colouring pencils for them to share. Although they will be doing separate pictures, they will be sharing the pencils without too much fuss and probably chatting away together as they draw.
A dressing up box is fun for little ones and something they will enjoy doing together. Keep a large box full of old clothes, hats, gloves etc. and listen to the shrieks of laughter as they put on mum's old dress or dad's old shirt.
Building blocks are another toy young children love. Encourage them to take turns picking up a building block and building them up. They will learn to wait their turn to allow others to play too. Let them take turns to knock down what they've built. This could also be adapted to jigsaw puzzles, taking it in turn to fit the next piece into the puzzle.
Older kids love computer games which, of course, is great; they have fun, it keeps them quiet and we have peace, but of course, it's not good for them to spend too much time doing this. Many children would be happy to spend hour after hour playing these games alone and interacting with other children isn't a top priority for them. As parents, we know time playing computer games needs to be limited and if some of the time spent on playing a game is against a friend, so much the better.
Sport, of course, is a great way for older children to interact with their peers. Whether a group sport, such as football, or a one to one sport, such as tennis, sport is a great way to socialise and get exercise at the same time.
It is up to us to help our children to learn how to play and interact with others. It's a basic social skill that will set them up for life.