What is Parallel Play? Understanding Your Child’s Unique Social Personality!

December 15, 2021

An important part of your child’s development through their early years is learning to play with themselves in the presence of other children. This is called parallel play and it’s a crucial part of growing up and developing your child’s interaction with people. It teaches them about appropriate social interactions, cooperation, and language development. We’re a Jewish daycare that believes in the importance of expressing your child’s feelings and allowing them to play with other children in a safe, happy manner. 

Parallel play is an important part of early childhood development and can set your child up for success later in life. As a trusted Hebrew daycare, we’ll go over what parallel play is, provide examples of it in action, and how it can benefit your little one long term!

“As a loving parent, you understand that every child is different when it comes to communicating with others. Your daughter may be a social butterfly, ready to talk to anyone that is willing to listen, while your son may be much more sensible and reserved. Our daycare celebrates children all over the world, and that is why we want to equip your child to handle any social situation.

Enhance your child’s social development by enrolling them in a nurturing environment where they are allowed to fully be themselves and make friends that they can grow with!”

 

What Is Parallel Stage Of Play?

Parallel playing is when two or more young toddlers play near one another without interacting directly. In this instance, they’ll be observing other children and mimicking the other child while playing. Although there’s no interaction between the two children playing, they’re learning to grasp new words, emotions, and reactions simply by looking at the other child playing. 

The parallel stage of play is an important part of your child’s early life because it introduces them to other people in their small world. Your toddler may be just be figuring out the big world outside their homes. It’s important they learn that other children like them exist and the proper ways of social interaction in the public. 

It can be an overwhelming experience for some, but parallel playing and mimicking other kids is a great way to start making friends and getting to know others! Let’s break down some examples of parallel play in action. 

 

What Is An Example Of Parallel Play?

Imitation and pretend games are the most common examples of parallel play in toddlers – this is where the child imitates the other while not interacting with them directly. If the playmate chooses to play with blocks, the other child will play with blocks too. If they decide to build a sandcastle in the sandbox, they’ll try to build their own as well. 

Parallel play is also an important part of introducing the concept of sharing to your child. For example, if there is only one toy car to play with and a toddler takes it, the other child may want to take it as well. This could lead to conflict, but that’s where the adult can step in to regulate taking turns playing with the car. You could also resolve it by offering the child another toy to play with. 

Parallel play is most often characterized by the child’s egocentric behaviour and their disinterest in coordinating with the activities of another child. There’s a constant impersonation of each other through shared interest and play that improve a child’s observation, fine motor skills, social learning skills. Imitation is often an advanced sign of progress towards the next stage of early childhood development. 

We often take small moments from our children for granted, like when one toddler sees other toddlers in a Christmas concert, trying to mimic what they’re doing with their hands and voice. This is another example of parallel play and it can be an important step to making sure your child is socially integrated. 

 

When Do Toddlers Stop Parallel Play?

Parents may ask when is the best time to stop parallel play. Usually, in children, it occurs between the ages of 18 months and 2 years, when they’re just growing into toddlers. Sometimes, parallel play can stretch into children aged 3-4. There’s no general consensus among childhood experts, but we nonetheless believe this age to be an important factor in their development. 

Most often, the parallel play in children will transition to associative and cooperative play. This is where the child actively takes interest in what their playmate is doing and engages with them in it. Letting your child play with another child allows them to develop their social skills together and build the confidence they need to start moving away from solitary play. They’ll be able to benefit from language development and empathy with other children, expressing their whole range of emotions! 

Our lovely staff at ACE Daycare strongly encourages children aged 14 months to 2 years old to play with one another. We have locations in Thornhill and Mississauga that provide advanced child care and education to fully prepare them for school. Get in touch with us today to see if our extensive programming is right for your child. 

Exploring the five senses and how your child can be excited to learn more about the world around them!
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