Who Wants To Play?

How do you help your children develop a growing sense of independence and autonomy by the age of seven? How do you deal with the increasing independence of your adolescent? The process begins as your toddler learns about play and social activities. However, your child is not able to play unless he knows how to play. He learns the idea of taking turns from people who allow him his turn and insist on their turn. He learns to be appropriately assertive without being excessively self-centered and aggressive from you and other adults who deal with his temper tantrums. He learns not to be too passive or compliant when you and other adults encourage him to stick up for himself, to speak up when it is his turn or when his rights are infringed upon.

Social development begins when you relate to your children as friends and playmates. Yes, you are a parent first; but part of the time (especially with your small children) you are friends and playmates. Within this playmate relationship, your child learns how to ask someone to play with her. She develops a feel for situations in which people do not want to play with her. She learns to accept an invitation to play. Occasionally, you may ask your toddler or preschooler if she wants to play a video game, accepting your child’s judgment about whether or not to play. Similarly, your child learns to ask you to play, accepting your judgment whether or not to play. Peek-a-boo played with your infant becomes hide-and-seek when she is a toddler or grade schooler. Working puzzles with your preschooler becomes assembling models or playing X-Box with your grade schooler or adolescent. Helping your preschooler fix her bicycle becomes helping your adolescent fix her car. Playing Fish with your preschooler becomes playing Scrabble with your adolescent. Making mud pies with a preschooler becomes helping prepare supper with your teenager. Friend and playmate relationships begin quite young and continue throughout your lives. Establish the playmate relationship with your child while remaining a good parent, and the fun and good times can go on for a long time. …