From the moment your baby was born, he started to learn to respond and adapt to the people around him. He will eventually start to enjoy seeing other people, but he will still always prefer his parents’ company. Research has shown that babies thrive on the relationships they establish with their parents and others, and that these relationships are the building blocks of healthy human development.
It is important to acknowledge that each baby is born with his own social style. Some may be more outgoing or extrovert, while others may be a bit shy and quiet. Generally, when a toddler turns two years old he begins to enjoy playing with children his age, and by three, he’ll be on his way to making real friends. But like any other skill, he will need to learn how to socialize by trial and error.
Here are some tips that will help you enhance your toddler’s social skills.
- Teach him emotional intelligence: The first step to help toddlers develop social intelligence is by helping them learn to manage their emotions, which is one of the foundations of interpersonal relationships. This means working to create a warm environment that’ll encourage more verbal expression about how he feels.
- Be affectionate towards him: Children who are more open and affectionate are more likely to have friends, so don’t hesitate on giving your kid kisses, hugs, and snuggles. You can also invite friends and relatives over, your son will love visitors, young and old alike, especially when they are friendly and give him lots of attention.
- Rehearse social situations: Prepare your toddler for an upcoming ‘social event’ by describing the setting, expectations, and the attendees. These details will help him manage social events. Then help him practice table manners, basic conversational skills, how to meet others and even how to say good-bye.
- Organize play dates: Keep play dates short and small at first, with only one or two other temperamentally similar babies. Make sure you have plenty of toys for everyone since very young children have difficulty sharing things with others, and be prepared to intervene when disagreements over toys develop.
- Confidence is all: Self-esteem is your child’s passport to a lifetime of social happiness. Think about a time when you were feeling really good about yourself. You probably found it much easier to get along with others. There are many different ways you can build self-confidence in your little one. Try praising his efforts at an activity or daily task, or present him with small but attainable challenges! The more confident your child feels, the more likely he will feel secure enough to start to interact with children his own age.
Want more tips and activities to enhance your toddler’s social skills? Try our “Building social skills” track. With these activities your child will learn to interact with people around him, imitate older kids, and even recognize family members! Click here to get your track!