Section 3, Article 2 - Children have played in every era and every culture, and this has led developmentalists to view this activity as essential to children’s development, though this is often still debated. Play is something that children naturally engage in, typically with peers, and most children have learned the skills to be good playmates by around age 6. Childhood play aids in developing children’s emotional regulation skills and their ability to empathize with others (). While play is fairly universal, cultural forms of play differ and are influenced by children’s gender and socio-economic status. Not only is play itself important, but the type of play is too.
How might a parent help develop a child's need for play with peers?
Active play with peers develops gross motor skills better than running or climbing alone, and it also helps in developing social skills and a healthy self-concept (). One type of active play is rough-and-tumble play, which imitates aggression but with no ill intentions, and often occurring among boys. Engaging in this type of play has been found to develop the prefrontal cortex, further strengthening children’s bodies and social skills (). Sociodramatic play is a kind of pretend play that involves children creating stories and acting out a variety of roles and themes, which are often based on gender norms. During the early childhood years, boys and girls may be willing to play together, but from the end of this age period until puberty, children tend to play with children of their own gender. Media has a detrimental effect on children’s developing play skills. Many medical and psychological organizations recommend that children under the age of 2 do not view electronic media of any kind ().