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Understanding Push and Pull Forces for Children- Definition and Examples

When Newton saw that Apple fall from the tree,
It was the first time he thought of Gravity!

Explaining Newton’s Law of Gravity to your Preschooler, might be about as hard as someone trying to teach you Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity!
A good way to begin would be by introducing them to Push and Pull Forces.

While understanding the difference between Push and Pull Forces comes as second nature to us, it’s not as easy for those young scientists.
In this article we will delve into understanding Force from the viewpoint of kids, with some classic Push and Pull Examples.
Let’s begin, with a closer look at the difference between Push and Pull Forces.

Push and Pull Forces for Children: Knowing the Difference

Understanding Force necessitates an understanding between ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’. Here’s how we can succinctly convey the difference between the two, to our kids.


When we exert force on an object and it moves ‘away’ from us, it is known as a Push.


Conversely, when we exert the same force on the object to get it to move ‘towards’ us, it as a Pull.
As we can see, any kind of Force is either a Push, or a Pull.
Tip: When you explain the concept of Push and Pull to your kids, do it by ‘pushing’ or ‘pulling’ onto a Tennis Ball. Seeing this ‘invisible’ Force playing itself out, will get them to understand it in a way like no other!

Examples of Push and Pull Forces

Here are some classic examples of Push and Pull that will help children better understand them.


  • Closing the main door of our home.
  • Stepping on the brakes of our car to stop it.
  • Gently pushing a chair under the table after we have finished our meal.


  • Opening the door to our bedroom.
  • Tugging on a kite that we are flying in the sky.
  • Pulling a trolley out of a line of trolleys at the airport.

Push and Pull Activities to garner a deeper Understanding of the basic Forces

We have seen the classic ‘ball example’, where it comes to teaching kids the concepts of Push and Pull. After they have understood these basic concepts of Force, it’s time to ‘Set the Ball in Motion’, where it comes to teaching children about Push and Pull.

That is, in more ways than using that ‘Ball’!
Sometimes, all they need is a ‘Push’ in the right direction!

Do Objects Move by Themselves?

This is an interesting activity that can be beneficial when it comes to firmly drilling the concepts of Push and Pull in the minds of those eager young learners.
To do: Bring out that collection of toy trucks and cars. Then ask your child, ‘Will these vehicles move by themselves?’ Let them answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, before moving one of the cars with a gentle ‘Push’, and encouraging them to do the same. Then wait a couple of seconds, before you ‘Pull’ the car and bring it back to its original spot. Needless to say, they will have the answer to the above question. What you want to ask them now is, ‘When did we ‘Push’ our cars, and when did we ‘Pull’ them?’

Go to the Playground

What better way to learn about Push and Pull, than in the one place they love most of all?
To do: Take your child to the Playground, and simply let them have a ball playing, as you gently reinforce in them the concepts of Push and Pull. For instance, you can tell them you are ‘Pushing’ them on the swing, while they are ‘Pulling’ onto those monkey bars!

Use objects of Various Weights

When different ‘weights’ come into the equation, things start to get a whole lot more interesting!
To do: Fill a cardboard box with objects of varying weights. These could be anything from a stuffed toy, to a bottle filled with water. Then ask them to slowly ‘Pull’ each object out of the box, and place it on a table nearby. Ask them which ones are more difficult to pull, than others. When all objects are on the table, they have to ’Push’ each one a few spaces ahead. Getting them to understand that some objects need more force to Push or Pull than others, is a great way for them to absorb these concepts.

Stopping an Object

Remember that Law of Gravity we spoke of earlier? This is an activity where it comes well into play!
To do: Roll an object like a ball, down a sloping table. Ask your child to stop it from falling down. Then tell them that by ‘stopping’ it, what they have inadvertently done, is to ‘push’ it. Tell them, the reason the ball is ‘falling down’, is because of the ‘Pull’ that is exerted on it, by an invisible force called ‘Gravity.’

Colliding Objects

Yes, we can push objects, but those objects can push other objects, too!
To do: Make a bowling arena, in the environs of your house itself. You can do this by talking some empty water bottles and placing them just like the pins in your local bowling centre. Then have your child gently ‘push’ a ball towards them, instead of rolling it. When one or more pins are knocked down, point out to them that the ball further ‘pushes’ those pins, too!

Tug of War

Perhaps the most exciting way to teach kids about the concept of ‘Pull’, this one!
To do: When your little one has plenty of friends over, get them to indulge in a good old game of Tug-Of-War. At the end of the game, explain to them that while both teams were ‘pulling’ hard, the team that pulled the ‘hardest’, won.

At EuroKids, we believe that learning about Push and Pull makes for a most vital exercise for children. When they come to harbour a clear understanding of these vital concepts, they gain an understanding of other important concepts, like Speed and Direction.

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