Helping Toddlers Learn to Play with Others

Social Interaction is one of the things your toddler learns during these pre-school years, but they may find it difficult at times to interact with other children and it can lead to problems.

Tantrums, aggressive behaviour and avoidance of social situations can be all part of being a toddler when it comes to playing with other children.

There are many reasons why toddlers find it particularly difficult to play with others, but each one has a solution.


Children are very honest about not wanting to share! Let’s face it; if we have something we love and are enjoying, we don?t always want other people to have it of it means handing it over. Children don?t understand the social norms that make adults want to share. They also don?t have a good understanding of the fact that whatever it is they are supposed to share won?t necessarily be gone forever. To help your child share, use positive reinforcement; when they do share, for example, passing a toy to another child to play with, praise them. Practice sharing at home by asking your child can you have things and getting them to share happily. Turn-taking games are a great way to exercise those sharing muscles ? even games such as simply throwing or rolling a ball to one another can teach lessons about sharing.


If you play with another child or talk to another adult, does your toddler have a meltdown? Jealousy is a big overwhelming feeling for a toddler and you may feel sometimes that your toddler’s jealousy is a sign he is ‘spoilt?. Think about what is behind the tantrum ? what is causing this display of jealousy? The most likely cause is that your toddler simply isn’t used with having to share you. The only way that this will subside is when you practice. If your child tugs at your arm, covers your mouth or tantrums to get your attention when you are giving it to someone else, or if they do this with children they want to play with, then give them opportunities to see that they will not get your attention, or the attention of another child by behaving in this way.

How to Deal with Unwanted Behaviour

If your child tantrums when dealing with other children, or if they display unwanted behaviour such as aggression in the form of biting, hitting or pinching, then remove them from the situation and give them some distance. Chances are they will be able to see what they are missing out on when they are removed from the situation. Rather than punishing the behaviour, calmly remove the child from the conflict and explain that the behaviour is unacceptable. They will quickly learn that if they want to play (and they do!) that they will have to interact in an acceptable way. If you remove them completely or give in to their behaviour they won?t learn this valuable lesson.