What Are the Play Dynamics?

As you know, we've been living outside these days. It's been fun to see the neighbors' kids who have all grown over the winter months. Everyone is taller and stronger and very verbal.

It's fun to watch the dynamics between different groups. My kids get along with some better than others. I don't know why that is other than having a clash of some very strong personalities. Our neighborhood boasts a pretty diverse age range. My kids play with other kids as young as two and as old as 10. You might think that would be strange. It's been fun to watch it all play out.

My parenting style tends to be very lax. I am a believer in letting kids work things out on their own. I don't like to get in there too much unless, clearly, someone might be on the road to injury or I know another parent is a more hands-on parent. That's not to say that I send my almost-three and four-year old out on their own to wander the streets, but I do think it's good for them to learn to work things out for themselves sometimes.

After some conversations with a few other moms this weekend, I gave more thought to this subject. With some kids, perhaps intervening earlier is appropriate based on your child and their abilities or the dynamics at hand. Playing with much younger kids or much older kids requires a bit more "presence" from a parent. A child who tends to be more physical--like my kids--perhaps needs a better tending to around certain situations.

But what interests me lately is how children of other lax parents do well in situations where they are left to figure it all out. Our little backyard group of ten or so kids gets along rather well. It may take the kids a few minutes to adjust to everyone and remember the hierarchy or 'chain of command' so to speak. But within a few minutes, everyone it playing nicely knowing his/her 'place' without too much supervision. Except for the occasional "stop that", "don't go over there", or "don't climb that tree so high." It's like Lord of the Flies...supervised.

Ahhh....a little reassurance that it's OK to step back sometimes and let your kids really play and figure out life on their own.

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