Signs & Symptoms


Is your child having trouble sharing and taking turns with other kids?

Many children have difficulty with reciprocal play. By grade school, we should see children playing reciprocally. They are engaging in games like tag, kickball, and Marco/Polo that have rules and winners and losers. Children are expected to take turns and to be a good sport.

It is concerning when some children are oblivious to these social rules. They may only see it from their perspective; therefore, losing, playing another person’s game, or letting someone else go first may be intolerable.

Perhaps your child stalks off the playground anytime the kids won’t play Harry Potter. He’d rather sit alone on the bench and count butterflies than play a game of tag. Maybe when he plays pretend he always has to be a certain character and cannot see why it might be good to give someone else a turn. Conversely, maybe your child is sweet and oblivious and constantly is taken advantage of by other children.

Maybe your child never gets a turn and allows others to take the lead and have all the control. Either of these opposite situations indicates that your child is not engaging in reciprocal play.

What do challenges with Interacting look like?

  • Having difficulty with sharing and turn taking?
  • Tending to be bossy or controlling, and always needing to have his own way?
  • Seeming to have trouble taking the perspective of classmates?
  • Often walking away and playing alone if the other children don’t do it her way?
  • Hitting other children in preschool?
  • Insisting on being right, being first, or winning every game?
  • Not interested in what other kids like? Only focused on her own thing?
  • Having difficulty understanding that his baby brother is very young and therefore doesn’t understand that the Lego belongs to him?

Why is Interacting happening?

Interacting is the skill of connecting with other people through conversation or play. Kids who play tag or ‘marco polo’ in the pool are interacting. Children typically begin to cooperate and play together by age 2 or 3. This concern can be identified if you notice that an older child struggles to understand and engage in play with other children. They might walk the perimeter of the room or stand near other children without engaging. A teen or adult may not know how to join a game or playful interaction. They may stand alone or hover close by others and require an invitation to join.

How can I manage Interacting at home?

The skills of social reciprocity and play skills need to be taught for many children. Parents can provide opportunities for guidance and practice. Often with ample time and supervision in social reciprocity, a child’s social skills will improve. Plan social activities for your child around his or her interests. Join a Lego or Robotics club; pursue the swim team or horseback riding. Find ways to have your child engage socially without leading to failure.

When activities are structured and turn-taking, back-and-forth interaction can be modeled, then children can improve their social skills. You may choose to avoid soccer teams or baseball teams, which are large activities that require a lot of cooperation.

Find something with an individual component but also social opportunities. Social groups in your community or at your child’s school may be a way for him or her to learn social skills and have these skills modeled for him or her.

Provide breaks and down time, but give your child social learning experiences. Foster and improve on those friendships that seem to be most connected. If your child loves Minecraft and finds another avid fan, work to get the boys together often and to guide them to maintain a friendship beyond just chatting at school.

How can Clear Child Psychology help with Interacting?

If your child is struggling with this symptom to the point that it is getting in the way of his or her learning, relationships, or happiness, it’s time to seek professional help.

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