By Rindala SEMAAN
Registered Clinical counselor - MSc. Psychomotor therapy - Child, youth and family
Children of all ages, grow and develop their skills through play and movement with a growing need of being social and making friends.
Play has different stages and children could have the possibility to play alone, play with adults or even with peers and each style of play impacts the brain differently and allows the child to acquire specific abilities that are needed to a healthy development.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of social play with peers. Children could have the opportunity to make friends by going to nurseries, schools or by playing in the park and meeting other children. It is important for them to learn to interact and socialise starting at an early age. Parties and playdates are fun and engaging and are also a great opportunity for children to socialise. Everybody loves parties! There is music, good food, balloons and so many toys!
Playdates and parties are also a good opportunity for fathers and mothers to meet other parents and to have some fun while observing their child from a distance. It allows them to discuss education, parental challenges and adventures and any sort of topic really. These gatherings are beneficial to all the family.
Playing with peers at parties and playdates makes your child happy and excited for sure but there are more benefits to it. Social gatherings as such, allow your child to practice basic and essential social and emotional skills such as:
Basic social manners of asking politely, saying thank you and turn taking
Sharing toys and candy with peers , playing together in a friendly manner
and resolving conflicts
understanding or relating to others emotions
Cooperating, interacting and communicating verbally and non verbally :
Listening to other kids while talking and also expressing themselves
appropriately, developing eye contact
Moving around and regulating their motor energy and sensory needs
In a previous article I wrote on this website, I described the different styles of play
and I encourage you to read the blog and to check the different interesting
services that you can find on the website.
You may notice some differences in how children play, depending on their age. Younger children play side by side, and this style is called “parallel play” and some older children would be moving together and following each other’s leads. It will all depend on their skill and developmental level but to keep them busy and motivated, parents usually plan some games and fun activities and some would offer them toys to keep them engaged together.
Instead of using your child’s own toys with a big group of children, it is always a good option to rent toys for the occasion. This way, you can have a variety of fun and colorful new toys for different skills and age levels that you give back after the party and be sure that your home won’t be crowded by it. Toy Share experience is a toy rental company and they do have a broad and fun list of toys that you can choose from for your children’s parties and playdates. You may choose to rent small tricycles for the garden, or big kitchen toys for imaginary play or just cars and blocks to use while sitting on the carpet. Each time will be different and your child will not stop exploring new play ideas.
I would recommend keeping the social gatherings relatively short for young children. Plan your event for around 90 minutes, to avoid sensory overload and fatigue which may lead to behavioral difficulties and outbursts afterward.
You know your child's functioning and you are able to anticipate any undesirable behaviors.I f they tend to be bothered by loud noises at parties, you can always suggest overhead noise cancellation gear but do encourage them to attend the event anyway. It
would be a shame for them to stay home and miss all the fun and the socializing benefits.
Noise cancellation is not the only option you have if your child is sensory sensitive or if they do have difficulties in sharing toys or engaging in social play. You can get in touch with me and I will be happy to offer more strategies and support ideas.
Now that that the covid-19 pandemic’s regulations are more flexible, you can finally host parties and playdates for your children.
You order the food and why not rent the toys too for a more fun experience?
Happy partying everyone!