Stages of Play: The Importance of Playtime
Learn how to handle your child's developmental stages of play in this excerpt from Your Toddler Month by Month by Dr. Tanya Byron.
Having age-appropriate expectations for your child is crucial. Babying will stop her from testing her capabilities and developing, while having expectations beyond her years will set her up for early anxiety and the possibility of “performance failure” and disappointment.
Play develops for children through a number of stages:
- Exploratory play – using the senses of touch, taste, and smell to comprehend new experiences.
- Relational play – using things as they are meant to be used. For example, using a fire truck to pretend to extinguish a fire.
- Symbolic play – using an object as something else. For example, using a house brick as an oven to cook on.
All children begin by playing alone. Solitary play then transforms into parallel play (playing alongside peers) and imitative play (that may involve peers). Finally, there is cooperative play when a child learns to share toys and playtime.
Newborn babies are so attached to their mother that they have no notion of being separate or having their own identity. By twelve months a unique personality will be more apparent, but your little one will not be ready to play cooperatively with other children until her brain has developed more fully and language skills have developed to a point where communication with other children becomes more effective.
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