Have you ever seen 2 or 3 year old children together for a play date, family gathering or party and wondered why they don’t play WITH each other? They might all be building blocks, dressing up, or playing Duplos but they are playing by themselves. This is what you call parallel play.
Babies and toddlers don’t always have the social and developmental knowledge to engage with one another yet, resulting in parallel play. Children become more aware of their surroundings and other children as they get older. When they are 2 and 3 years old, they may seem content to play next to another child but necessarily with the other child.
Before forcing your child to engage and with another child at a playdate or gathering, take a step back and take in what you see. The children are most likely observing and imitating one another in their play behavior. The children might be looking up occasionally or glancing out of the side of their eyes to learn new things from their playmates.
Children ages 2-3 most likely enjoy having each other in close proximity, just like you may enjoy the comfort of having your spouse, child or pet in the same room with you even if you aren’t doing the same thing at the same time. As child are 3-5 years old, they begin engaging with other child and parallel play decreases. Parallel play is just one type of play that children engage in as they learn and development their language social skills.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and/or language development, contact SpeechWorks today.
Jann Fujimoto, MS CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and owner of SpeechWorks LLC, a provider of on-site speech therapy in Delafield, Dousman, Hartland, Watertown, Oconomowoc, and Pewaukee. SpeechWorks helps children become confident and competent communicators.