Social Competence and Empathy

Playing is crucial in enhancing social development in children. Unstructured active play with others – including parents, siblings, and peers – is a significant opportunity to cultivate social skills. While playing, the act of pretending as well as negotiating with peers enhances children’s social skills. Playing also provides opportunities for children to learn social interaction. While playing together, children learn to cooperate, follow the rules, develop self-control, and generally get along with other people. Psychologists found that the amount and complexity of fantasy play by preschoolers significantly predicted their social skills and popularity, as well as their positive social activity. Playful children tend to be happier, better adjusted, more co-operative, and more popular with their peers than those who play less. Children who play more also develop more empathy, another essential element that advances social skills. Such children grow to have a better understanding of other people’s feelings and beliefs.
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