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Helping kids play together

Whitney Coy is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus, OH, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She writes frequently for SheKnows, as well as several other websites. She writes on topics including parenting, trav...

Teach them to play

Friendships are an important part of childhood, and play is a great way to get those friendships started.
Making friends through play
Kids playing together

Just because you put two kids together doesn't mean they'll play together. Don't be surprised if they take their toys and retreat to a corner. Read on for tips about how to help them learn to play together and make friends in the process.

1

Turn off the TV

If you're having a play date at home, switch the television off before the play begins. If it's on, the kids will probably zone out to whatever's on instead of paying attention to each other.

2

Time it right

Schedule play times for early in the morning or right after naps. If you get them together when they're tired or hungry, they'll be grumpy and ready to fight, not play.

3

Pick the right toys

If you want kids to play together, give them toys that encourage group play. Give them role-playing toys such as dress-up clothes, kitchen toys, baby dolls and people or animal figurines. If you hand out coloring books and books, they'll retreat to their own area and play alone.

Check out these fun water toys for outside play >>

4

Keep it small

Avoid putting together large groups of kids. In those situations, fights break out and someone always gets left out. Try to keep groups small, at least while children are still learning to play together. Two kids make the perfect play group!

Read about 5 preschool play date must-haves for moms >>

5

Pair them well

It's tempting to pair your child with your BFF's kid and assume they'll get along perfectly. It takes a lot more than that to get small children to get along. Two strong personalities will almost always clash, and two withdrawn children probably won't interact at all. Pair an outgoing child with a shy one for a play date that will work.

Find out how to master the art of play dates >>

6

Head off aggression

Aggressive behavior is bound to happen, especially when someone has a toy that someone else wants. Big fights can lead to total meltdowns, and that's usually all it takes to end a great play date. Keep an eye out for situations like this and head them off before they get too severe. Intervene by bringing their attention to something else, or talking to the child that wants the toy while the other child is playing with it. Assure her she can have the toy when her friend is done with it.

Quick tip

If you're looking for kids to play with, try places such as local parks and children's museums, as well as kids' areas at the local mall!

How to steer clear of a bad play date: 9 Moms to watch out for
How to host a play date that is easy and fun
Secrets of a successful play date

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