Play between girls differs from play between boys. Girls tend to focus more on relationship building through prosocial behavior during play and boys tend to prefer more active, physical play in large spaces.
Girls also tend to be more interested in developing and maintaining the roles of play. For example, if playing house, girls may assign someone the mother role and expect them to take on the mothering duties. When playing with boys, girls may become frustrated that boys may resist taking their direction or accepting their assigned role.
Since play preferences among preschool girls and boys are distinct, preschoolers often prefer to play with children of their same gender. Nannies should provide opportunities for mixed-gender play to help them understand gender differences and become comfortable interacting with other genders. Nannies can also recognize each gender’s play desires and help them to understand each other’s perspective to encourage cooperative play. Role-playing stories where the characters are faced with a play dilemma can help children find a mutually agreeable and workable solution.