Playing With Other Kids

Learning social skills takes time and practice. We tell you what to expect as your 1-year-old starts to play with other children.
babies sitting on the beach

Thayer Allyson Gowdy

During this year, your child learns to express love and anger not only with you but also with other children. However, a 1-year-old can't yet take the perspective of another. He doesn't know it hurts the dog when he uses her ears to pull himself up. He doesn't know that you can't see the page of the picture book he's looking at when it's turned away from you. He doesn't know that taking toys from his brother makes his sibling angry. You might think, therefore, that putting two or three 1-year-olds together to play would spell disaster.

But you may be pleasantly surprised at how well your child and her peers seem to get along. However, just because they are playing and they are together, it doesn't mean that they are playing together. Kids this age engage in parallel play-they are side by side but are pursuing their own goals.

Such play sessions can erupt into conflict, however. With the 1-year-old's growing sense of individuality comes a greater sense of territory and possession. So his reaction to the sight of another child playing with a toy he suddenly decides he wants will generally be to take it-and tears usually follow. Be prepared to remove one child or both children from the scene-the crisis should blow over quickly, and play can resume. These are important learning opportunities for a child who is being initiated into the rituals and rites of social interaction. Learning social skills takes time and plenty of practice.

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