Playing with Others


Learning to play with others is a complex skill that develops over time. Playing with others requires children to take turns, cooperate, and negotiate with others. Through play, children can practice seeing other people’s points of view. Children who start out believing that everyone sees the world the same way as they do may learn – by acting out a role or pretending to be somebody else – that others see the world differently than they do.

Children go through six stages as they develop their ability to play together.

  • Unoccupied Play — when an infant makes movements with their arms, legs, hands, feet, etc. to discover how their body moves
  • Solitary Play — when children play alone and show no interest in what other children are doing
  • Onlooker Behavior — when a child watches and observes other children playing but does not play with them
  • Parallel Play — two or more children play side by side and use the same materials, but do not interact, work together, or share
  • Associative Play — children share toys and try to work together but still have trouble taking turns and solving disagreements
  • Cooperative Play — children act out complementary roles in a shared scenario, divide up the roles, decide who will do what, and truly work together