In the 2011 Hong Kong population census, 26.4% of domestic households were in the poverty category, and one in every four children (26.4%) lived in low-income households. Children in low-income families face fi nancial and material barriers, and these barriers leave them trapped in a cycle of disempowerment. Play is a primary context for fostering young children’s positive peer interactions. Through play, children develop the social, emotional, cognitive and language skills that contribute to the ability to establish effective relationships with peers. Play acts as an intervention of preschool counselling. Girls exhibited greater play interaction, and less play disruption and play disconnection. They also exhibited greater social competence (social play) less socially withdrawal behaviour. Both social play and peer interactive play behaviour increased with age, while social withdrawal decreased with age. The cultural and indigenous contexts of play development should receive attention. Recommendations are made regarding lexical access in non-alphabetical language systems like Chinese and cultural understandings of shyness, withdrawal and social disinterest as they relate to the interpretation of play behaviour in the local context.