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par1Do you wonder why children want the same toy when they are surrounded by other stimulating and maybe more fun toys?  This is typical for children from the age of two to three years.  It is referred to as Parallel Play, the second stage of play.  I covered the first stage of Solitary Play in my last published article.  So let me tell you what to expect so your life will become easier when your child joins a play group and he is at this stage of play.

Dealing with Unacceptable Behavior
Depending on your child’s personality, birth order and temperament, each child is unique in their play experience.  However, episodes of the different stages of play will be apparent. Emotions are still unpredictable at this age and tantrum behavior may result if he doesn’t get his way. Have a plan of action when your child exhibits unacceptable behavior such as biting, kicking, pushing or screaming, I recommend these books to help with discipline if needed:

  • [easyazon-link asin=”0984408509″ locale=”us”]My Baby Compass, Birth to Two (Book[/easyazon-link] by Kathryn Thorson Gruhn
  • [easyazon-link asin=”0071471596″ locale=”us”]The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums, and Tears[/easyazon-link] by Elizabeth Pantley
  • [easyazon-link asin=”0061346632″ locale=”us”]You’re Not the Boss of Me: Brat-proofing Your Four- to Twelve-Year-Old Child[/easyazon-link] by Betsy Brown Braun
  • [easyazon-link asin=”0983263302″ locale=”us”]Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five[/easyazon-link] by John Medina

Parallel Play
Now that you know what to do if your child misbehaves, let’s talk about the play behavior. When your child has transitioned to parallel play, he wants to play with the same toys as the children around him. This can cause difficulties if there aren’t two toys that are the same in his play group or day care room. He doesn’t try to influence the play and interaction with the children around him. Talking to himself, pushing cars or building blocks in a section of the room while watching the other children interact is not a red flag for this age group. A parent should be aware of their child’s developmental milestones to note if there are developmental delays in their child’s behavior. Here are some suggestions for parents to create a happy play experience:

  • If possible, have two of the same toys or have a basket of “share toys” that you have agreed on ahead of time with your child. Remove special toys that your child refuses to share and will cause a confrontation.
  • If there is too much confrontation, have a group activity such as catching “bubbles”, painting, reading a book, going outside or building a fort with a blanket over the table.
  • If your child is possessive of his toys, don’t punish him. Use this opportunity to help him understand his emotions and how to react to them.
  • If your child won’t share a toy, honor his feelings. Tell your child’s playmate or sibling, “He wants the toy; when he is finished with it, then it is your turn.” Give the playmate or sibling another toy to play with, and set a timer to establish how long the children can play with each toy. When the time is over, switch toys.

I hope this helps you to understand and if nothing else, he will outgrow this stage!