Observe the child in play with older siblings or an adult play partner. Provide two of items if possible to allow imitation and modeling and reduce conflict.
If the child is playing with an older sibling, just watch. The sibling will take the lead. If the child is playing with an adult, the adult should tell the child what he is doing in play (making a puzzle, putting animals in a barn, driving a car into the garage) and ask for assistance. Offer suggestions for what the child can do next. Continue to play by adding on ideas.
The child will follow the older child or adults lead with new action sequences. He will follow suggestions, as long as the older child does not try to take control of the items with which the younger child is playing.
Children like to play with older children and adults because they provide higher-level ideas and action sequences for them to imitate. They also learn new phrases and vocabulary while playing. Give parents the hint to provide two of things whenever possible. For example, baby dolls, paper plates, plastic spoons, trucks, cars, puzzles, balls, etc. Encourage parents to be part of the dramatic play when siblings are not available. Children love to play and they love a play partner!
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
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