Red Green Repeat Adventures of a Spec Driven Junkie

Playing Well with Others - Cooperative Play

I’m watching Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore’s The Great Courses video on: Raising Emotionally and Socially Healthy Kids . These are some of my notes on Chapter 8 - Playing Well with Others.

This is a continuation of my previous notes on stages of play.


Kids are playing together in a “shared world” and cooperating with each other. That’s it, right?

Well, there are different levels of cooperative play:

  • pretend
  • rough & tumble
  • games with rules

Pretend Play

When kids are doing pretend play, they are imitating real gestures with toys. They also deal with problems of life as well, such as: going to the doctor/dentist, death/loss.

In general, boys like to pretend they are knights, ninjas, war games, or they are heroes. Girls pretend play with animals, fairies, or angels.

Rough & Tumble

For rough & tumble play, everyone is chasing, running around, tumbling, and wrestling with each other.

There is a fine line between rough play and fighting. You have to observe whether everyone is smiling, laughing, and that there is no crowd building up.


A sign that a fight is happening is when:

  • There is aggression between non-friends.
  • There is a challenge made by one and the other must respond to.
  • The fight usually involves a crowd of others and there’s only two children involved in the challenge.
  • The children are fighting when there is frowning or crying.
  • They are trying to hurt each other
  • The children involved in the fight do not interact with each other afterwards.

Rough Play

Signs that the children are in rough and tumble play are:

  • Children involved are laughing.
  • There is an invitation from children involved for more children to join in the play.
  • Children are holding back and not hurting each other.
  • There are three to four children involved.
  • After rough play, they continue to interact with each other.

Games with Rules

The stage of children playing together involve games with rules. This is usually when children are at least six years old. In games with rules, peers teach most games to each other, not by adults or parents.

They start to learn about winning and losing. In general, children can only start to deal with losing from nine years old.

Learning to Lose

There is a progression in the game types for children to learn about losing:

  1. Beat your own record
  2. Cooperative board game
  3. Kids against adults
  4. Short/long competitive games
  5. Organized sports

Games adult knows about winning/losing the most are sports - which they may be watching themselves. Putting children into these games right away can make learning about losing more challenging.


Cooperative play has levels ranging from pure pretend play to games with rules. Children need games to develop and having the appropriately challenging play for them will help structure their development.