What you can do to help your child’s social development?
Children need guidance and preparation to become sociable beings. They need guidance upon how to interact and make friendships.
1. Send your child to Pre-School
I encourage you to enroll your child in a pre school program. This provides opportunities for your child to meet new friends, to see and learn from other children playing. The adults in charge will provide direction and opportunities for social interactions.
2. Arrange play dates
Invite similar aged children to play with your child. The only way they will learn to interact socially is to have experience. Guide your child through the play situations when it is needed, but aim to promote independence.
3. Read stories about friends
Read stories based on friendships. Talk about the friends from the story. Choose books that deal with issues such as bullying, sharing, taking turns etc. Books with fun characters can have a powerful meaning to kids.
4. Read books to your child and chat
Reading will assist your child’s language development. They need to use their words to communicate. Children learn language by hearing and using it.
5. Talk about their feelings
Provide time for your child to talk about their feelings. This can be done spontaneously. For example if they are mad, sad, happy, remind them it is ok to have these feelings and help your child to deal with them. When a child is able to talk about and understand their own feelings it can make them more aware of feelings of others. Children will develop a sense of empathy, something essential when sorting disputes.
6. Encouraging the use of language
Do not fall into the trap of responding to a child pointing or making a ‘needy’ noise. Obviously before a baby can use their words this is the only means if communication, however once your child can speak, they must be guided away from this. Children need to use their words for effective communication to peers. Children who can use their words effectively will create friendships more easily than those children who have less language experience.
7. Join age appropriate groups
Enrol your child in activity groups. Follow your child’s natural interest and find a group to support this and to nurture their talents. It could be a scouts group, dancing class, sporting club. It is good for children to meet new friends in different social situations. Plus they will share similar interest with the children in the group.