Types of Play in Child Development - Toy Business Ideas

Updated: Aug 31

In our busy world, it is heartbreaking to see how our children are so much consumed by gadgets (tablets, laptops, and other gamer gadgets). We, parents, sometimes try to justify our acts of allowing them to use it for long hours so we can work, do household chores, or have extra 'me time'. This could even be worse during the winter season when people usually spend most of their time indoor. I have heard some parents say, "There's nothing else to do in the house for the kids."


While technology gives so much advantages for us, unconscientious use can lead to devastating effects on health. According to an article released by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018:

Use of the Internet, computers, smartphones and other electronic devices has dramatically increased over recent decades, and this increase is associated not only with clear and tremendous benefits to the users, but also with documented cases of excessive use which often has negative health consequences. In an increasing number of countries, the problem has reached the magnitude of a significant public health concern.


This excessive use can lead to addiction, sleep pattern disturbances, insufficient physical activity, imbalanced nutrition, eyesight and/or hearing problems, aggressive behavior, depression, and other psychosocial impairments.


Addiction with online or offline video games, in particular, is characterized by: (1) impaired control over gaming; (2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities; and (3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences (source: WHO).


The term gaming disorder (also known as video game addiction) is now even included in International Classification of Disease, Eleventh Revision (ICD-11). ICD is a healthcare recognized system by which patients' disease signs and symptoms, disorder, and/or injury are coded. ICD has been formulated through the joint effort of WHO and 10 other international centers.


If you think your child is showing any of these signs and symptoms, it would be best to consult with your primary healthcare provider for further assessment, treatment or counselling.


You can sell fun educational toys as a form of advocacy in promoting healthy lifestyle among kids. Knowledge on how different age groups play can also aid in designing an indoor playground business-- targeting different age group's developmental fun and play interests.


You may also want to read my article on 'What Owning a Business Could Do To Your Life'.



Types of Play


1. Onlookers. Infants are commonly seen as just observing the environment as they try to learn more about it. They may watch other kids play but do not directly participate.


2. Solitary. This type of play is commonly seen among infants and toddlers when the child does not make social interaction with others. The child plays with his/her own toys and ignores other kids that are around. They focus on sensorimotor explorations, at which the senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch) are used to have fun with the toys and those other stuff around the surroundings. Parents or caregivers play an important role for encouraging social interaction and new experiences at this time. Examples of play environment and toys:

  • Bright colorful walls painted with fun characters such as playful animals, shapes, trees and flowers, planets, etc.

  • Learning wall panels

  • Kiddie musical instruments

  • Baby toys with music and lights


3. Parallel. Parallel play is commonly seen among toddlers when they play alongside with their peers but independently and lacking coordination or cooperation. The child may play with similar toys that other kids are playing but he/she does not interact with them. Examples of toys that facilitate parallel play:

  • Kids' sand table

  • Blocks


4. Associative. Associative play is common among 4- and 5-year-old kids. They play in a group and interact with each other doing the same thing, but they have different goals (such as when they play with and share dolls and accessories but have different play scenarios/ dialogues). Kids interact by talking to each other and sharing/ exchanging toys. Examples of toys that encourage associative play:

  • Dolls and/or action figures

  • Drawing boards/mats


5. Cooperative. Cooperative play, the most complex type of social play, is common among preschoolers and older children. It is displayed as the kids play in pairs or groups to accomplish a similar goal. Cooperative play is also characterized by continuous communication, cooperation, and mutual problem-solving skills. This type of play encourages development of positive relationships that thrive on the virtues of honesty, fair play, and teamwork. Pretend play (e.g. nurse-patient or teacher-student pretend play); constructive play (e.g. building bridges and towers using blocks, building puzzles together, etc.); and formal games (e.g. row your boat, hopscotch, Simon says, etc). are common fun activities that support cooperative play. Examples of toys:

  • Pretend play toys

  • Constructive play toys

  • Formal games



Creative and educational play helps mold a child's overall development. Good play generally:

  • promotes physical activity which could prevent obesity among kids;

  • helps build emotional intelligence as kids learn to express their emotions, become assertive, and master problem-solving or coping skills; and

  • hones a child's social skills

It also offers a good opportunity to teach our kids roles and responsibilities they will assume in adulthood. For an instance, a mom-baby pretend play can help girls prepare for motherhood roles in the future or a teacher-student pretend play may influence kids to be good and responsible students in class or even inspire them to become educators. Likewise, the rough and tumble play commonly seen among boys may prepare them to be competitive (in a healthy and socially acceptable way) against other men once they reach adulthood.


So, if you want to sell educational toys and promote health among kids or if you want to start an indoor playground business make sure it does not pose any harm among children. Be cautious with toys that have small parts which may cause choking among smaller kids. The play environment should also comply with your locale's health and legal standards, guidelines, and regulations to ensure children's safety at all times.


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