Momma Told Me: Practicing Cooperative Play Skills With Little Tikes

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Practicing Cooperative Play Skills With Little Tikes

Little Tikes provided us with a Cape Cottage Playhouse and Cook N' Play Outdoor Grill for the purpose of this content. Any parenting advice given is strictly the non-professional opinion of the blog owner. All photos contained below are copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2015.
Build Cooperative Play Skilled with these simple tips and the Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse and Sizzle 'N Serve Grill
Momma Told Me: Play nice!

As a little girl I didn't play well with others. I did play with them, but I was often bossy and seldom got invited back on play dates. As I grew, Momma saw this independence as more of a tomboy characteristic and began introducing me to boys my own age, where I could roughhouse and be more abrasive without hurting quite so many feelings. It didn't quite turn into an Olga- "Hey Arnold" situation, but I seemed to dominate the boys as well. Regardless, Momma was satisfied with not having to listen the  concerned parents after Barbie hair-cutting incidents, and how my need to turn a stick into a fake gun wasn't 'healthy'.

While every child is indeed different, there are actually several tools and techniques, when practiced at an early age, that can help young boys and girls socialize with age, personality, and gender variances. There's nothing wrong with being a 'girly girl' or a tomboy, but we can't always choose those we're thrown in with, so teaching smart cooperative play skills are essential.
Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse and Sizzle 'N Serve Grill
Our home, growing up, was not the 'it' home. We lived in a condo until I was 11, so space was limited and the most exciting thing for a kid to do was climb the trees lining the complex border or go for a swim in the community pool. Growing up there was always one kid with, what seemed like, a mansion and every recreational toy you could hope for. Of course, to me, a house with a yard was a treat, whether it has a turtle sandbox in it or not. I remember my cousin's house was always my favorite because it had the most  wonderful Little Tikes playhouses, riding toys, and more.
 There were 3-4 years between each of my cousins and I, one barely beginning to walk, and another just exiting kindergarten. I was the oldest, and expected to set a good example, though I always felt like a kid in a candy store around all the beautifully colored 'toys' that were in truth miniature versions of adult things (like cars, houses, planes, and grills.) Perhaps, most impressive of all, was how this collection of toys could foster so much creative play across such age and developmental age differences. As I grew, it never bothered me that I could no longer fit in the Cozy Coupe car- I now enjoyed pushing my younger cousin in it, and so on.
 While it's always nice to be the 'it' house, with everything going on, you don't have to break the bank to outfit your yard, or playroom, with engaging play sets. Today, as a childcare provider, and beloved Aunt, I appreciate Little Tikes playhouses and furniture for their easy to assemble designs made from durable materials, with engaging concepts. Let's just say I wish I had a similar 'big girl' version of the Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse stashed away on the East Coast somewhere! Complete with front and back entrances, and a dual flag poles, this playhouse is ready for customization and imagination. Add a Sizzle 'N Serve Grill, complete with 14 pieces of accessories and food- from tongs to hamburgers and buns, and you'll spark hours of play.
You don't have to have a multi-child family to find value in a great playhouse such as the Little Tikes Cape Cottage. Friends and family will love visiting to play in this adorable scale cottage, and it's light enough to move from front to backyard, or even put in the back of the truck and take to the park. And assembly? I was able to assemble it alone in less than 20 minutes, decals and all! Of course a playhouse is best put to use with a few good friends, so I've compiled a few tips to help young children socialize through cooperative play.
Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse and Sizzle 'N Serve Grill
Tip #1: Allow each child to make the play space their own. Regardless of who's home the play space is in, all children need to feel welcome and free to express their creativity. Encourage children to express themselves through toy placement 'design' decisions, and open a dialog for discussion of placement thoughts. "Which flag should we put on the cottage today?" "Where do you think the grill should go?" "What flowers will grow in the garden?" even if the questions evolve around imaginary aspects of the setting allow each child participating to have their say in the play-set or scenario. Opening with such an activity will teach host children to share, and guests that they are a welcome and valued addition to the play date.
Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse and Sizzle 'N Serve Grill
Tip #2: Turn enthusiasm into sharing. Many young children struggle with the concept of possession. Sharing is an ability we all try to foster from an early age, but can often become difficult in new situations or settings. If you have a child that is possessive of their playthings, when having guests over, encourage them to share by having a show and tell session. As your child to explain what their favorite things about their toys and play sets are and encourage them to show their friends and guests physically with words like feel, try, and see. This will help your child relinquish control of the toys and property willingly through the excitement of sharing their enthusiasm with others.
Tip #3: The best way to encourage social skill development is through leading by example. Most childhood pretend time is modeled after real life characters and situations. Since children look up to all of the adults in their life, for guidance, call out proper behavior and social techniques when you practice them. Events such as waiting in line at the checkout, sharing a scoop of ice cream, and cleaning the dinner table can all turn into learning cues for respectful social interaction. Explain your actions such as, "I'm going to let you have some of my dessert because it's fun to share," or "I'm waiting my turn in line because it's polite." Never talk down about your peers, coworkers, or family in front of children, and always explain your actions through words.
Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse and Sizzle 'N Serve Grill
Tip #4: Discourage pretend play that places children in hierarchy roles. Cops and robbers or King and Queen may be all fun and games, but after time children tend to fall into the same roles, and feel left out. Instead, suggest young girls pretend they are all a part of a fair princess council- one could be Earth, Fire, Ice, and Wind- Or suggest toys and play animals become the bay guys of playtime. No child should ever be placed in a role-playing role that somehow makes them feel as though they are even to pretend like they are less important than another child! And, there should never be rules in pretend- encourage children to define their roles and explore new boundaries. After all, who said there was no such thing as a fire breathing, seahorse, mermaid warrior- not these kids!
Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse and Sizzle 'N Serve Grill
Tip #5: Encourage taking turns. Inevitably, every child will have a scenario or toy that is their favorite. The bigger the group of children, the harder it will be to please everyone. It's common sense, but taking turns will help keep the group focused and engaged with what is going on. For us, the Sizzle 'N Serve Grill was a real hot spot. While Josh felt it was his 'manly' duty to remain at the grill station, Lynsey wanted to point out that 'girls can bbq too,' so we initiated a turn system. I asked Lynsey to show Josh what her second favorite toy in the cottage was, the vacuum, and he was enthusiastic about 'vacuuming' the grass, in no time- while he waited his turn. Taking turns isn't simply a matter of being fair, it rewards children for their patience and respect of their fellow playmates.
Little Tikes Cape Cottage Playhouse and Sizzle 'N Serve Grill
While these are just a few tips to help encourage sharing, social skills, and cooperative play, each child is indeed different. Make sure you talk to children after play groups and sessions so that you can understand and identify any unique struggles. Be sure to address frustrations with feelings and descriptive words and practice appropriate skills with toys and family, until the next playtime.

Little Tikes has an assortment of toys, vehicles, an playhouses for children from infant to toddler and early grade school. Even older siblings will enjoy passing on their memories of these beloved playthings, which are sure to remain an active part of play and growth for years! Did you have a treehouse, playhouse, or similar retreat as a child?

What Daughter Says: Practice cooperative play with simple social skill building techniques on and off the play yard.
 

23 comments:

  1. Now my kids would have loved, loved, loved that little house. Little Tikes always has such a great line of play items for kids... :)

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  2. I love the little cottage house! My daughter would love it. She does have trouble sharing and we are definitely working on that. Thanks for the tips. This will really help me out as my kid is in the Terrible 2s stage.

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  3. My kids love playing with little tikes! I love that kids can grow with their toys, we have had so many Little Tikes toys over the years.

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  4. This is such an adorable house for the kids! I always wanted something like this when I was a kid!

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  5. Teaching those skills while young is so important. It prepares our little ones for different stages of school and life. Little Tykes is like that. Always bring real life into play.

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  6. These are great tips! I have a four year old and he really struggle to play with others. He's not mean or anything but he is just used to doing things his own way. I'll have to try out these tips and see if I can get him playing better with others.

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  7. This is SO important, oh my gosh. Kids who don't learn these skills are off to a rough start! I never had any kind of playplace like that as a child, because we lived in an apartment...but I sure wanted one!

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  8. These are great tips. It's really important to teach kids how to play nice. Playing nice now leads to good communication and people skills down the line.

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  9. These are all excellent tips, especially turning enthusiasm into sharing. Kids have a natural tendency to want to horde what they're excited about. Showing them how much fun it can be to share their enthusiasm is a great way to promote sharing.

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  10. Sharing and taking turns are skills that my kids need to work on. Thanks for the tips, I will put them to good use.

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  11. Awe how sweet! This is something I battle with in my home. Having 5 kids their play often turns into bickering!

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  12. What a sweet article! It is so hard sometimes to get siblings to get along. Complete love/hate relationship that changes every 5 min!

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  13. How sweet! There must be two versions of the Cape Cottage because we just received it as well but our windows are white and there were no flags in the box, just the flag holders.

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  14. Little Tikes toys are definitely some of the best around. They make sure to include small details and totally last for ages too!

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  15. My daughter is still learning to share! We try to make her understand that sharing means both people get to enjoy it!

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  16. What a fun place for them to exercise their imaginations! I love your ideas about discouraging hierarchy roles.

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  17. All of my kids have loved Little Tikes toys. I love that they are durable enough for the older kids to play alongside the younger kids.

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  18. Little Tykes makes the best outdoor toys. This is so cute. My friends little girls would love one. I will have to share this with her.

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  19. This is something my kids would love to have to play with. These are great tips. It is important for kids to learn cooperative play.

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  20. These are really great tips. Kids need to learn how to be social and play. I will have to try a few of these with my kids.

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  21. I adore that little play house! Seriously if we had one I don't think I'd ever get my daughter to leave it!
    We had the "IT" yard growing up. Cause we lived on a farm..lots of fun stuff for outside. I want to give that to my kids too.

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  22. That is seriously the cutest playhouse I have ever seen. I'd love to get something like that for my boys!! They love playing pretend!

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  23. wow how adorable! they thought of everything.

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