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Are we social animals? Maybe, but that doesn’t mean that good social skills come by instinct. Anyone who has watched a room of two year olds squabble over who can play with which toys knows that any social skills we older people have are hard-earned trophies. Playing nice doesn’t come easily to most children, and it takes lots of practice.
Where We Come In
As parents, it’s up to us to provide that practice in a low-key, positive, supervised environment. Part of shaping an environment which encourages your child’s developing social skills is providing playthings that encourage not competition or solitaire-style games but help your child learn to navigate collaborative play.
That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with toys that are played with by one child. Those are important, too, in a different way, for all those times when your child doesn’t have playmates available. But they won’t help your child figure out social skills.
Toys that Help
What are the criteria for toys that encourage collaborative play? They should:
- Be able to be used by more than one child at a time
- Encourage cooperation, not competition
What are examples of cooperative toys? Legos or building blocks are one example of cooperative toys you may have already in your house. Our catalogue is full of many more. For instance, there’s a kitchen set large enough for several children to play together in it, cooperating on a fancy dinner spread. Another toy that encourages collaborative play is a bounce house or large activity center.
It won’t take long for your child to figure out that playing nicely together with someone else is much more fun than hogging the whole thing alone.
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