Ask Andrea, Our Play Maven.

I'm always struggling to engage all 3 of my beans (7 yo boy, 5 yo girl and 2 yo boy) in play together. Any suggestions on what I can do to incorporate all of them into a play activity? Is there something that they will all enjoy, understand and not argue about?

Play time offers children the opportunity to explore their try on different roles, test boundaries and explore relationships. Sometimes this results in conflict during play, particularly amongst siblings. Encouraging children to find their own solutions, to explore creative responses to each other and to tolerate uncomfortable feelings are some of the ways parents support their children's play. There can be challenges with including children of different ages in group play but the potential benefits are worth the hassle.

I would suggest you start with real life dramatic play in your quest to find enjoyment for your three beans. To engage your children in this type of play you might want to set up a part of your house or your playroom with the necessary items for a real life event that the children can engage with. For example, children love to play store. Try providing them with some play money, a cash register, an apron and a variety of different items that can be 'sold' and see how they navigate the different roles involved. Other popular 'real life' options for dramatic play are hospital, school and family.

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