Children Engage In Complex Games As They Get To Know Each Other

In Education

Researchers face challenges when studying young children’s socialization with peers due to their limited ability to describe their experiences. To address this, a study was conducted using a unique dataset by researchers Ayelet Lahat, William Bukowski, Holly Recchia, and Jonathan Santo.

Toddlers form relationships when they engage in play

The study involved 32 toddlers from two age cohorts (around 20 months and around 30 months) who were paired with same-age, same-gender toddlers. Over a four-month period, each pair had 18 play dates lasting 45 minutes, resulting in a total of 36 play dates for each child. The study aimed to observe how young children develop peer relationships and engage in complex games as they get to know their peers over time.

The research study recruited parents from a Canadian city through phone calls, specifically targeting those mentioned in birth announcements in a local newspaper. The majority of parents in the sample had some level of post-secondary education.

Data collection proved challenging as parents had to agree to 36 play dates with two regular playmates involved in the study. Nevertheless, this approach allowed the researchers to observe how children’s interactions changed as they formed peer relationships.

The play dates took place alternately at the toddlers’ homes and included visits with the two different play partners. All participating parents were mothers, and they were instructed to allow the children to freely interact with each other without directing or organizing their play.

Children’s interacting dynamics change when they are familiar

Throughout the study, a researcher closely followed the children, documenting all social actions related to their interactions with peers on one track of an audio tape recorder. A separate track recorded the children’s verbal and vocal behaviour.

Children’s interactions change as they become familiar with each other, with positive interactions typically increasing and early positive interactions serving as predictors of future positive interactions. Caregivers and parents must recognize that toddlers form relationships with their peers. Consistency in having a play partner is important as children’s interactions become more intricate and advanced as they become acquainted.

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