Helping your little one be social and make new friends

As new age parents, we are always on the lookout for milestones, especially when it comes to our kids. We consider it something of a parenting report card to mark the imaginary checkboxes that we have parked in our minds to see how good we are when it comes to their sound development – rolling over, saying the ABCs or even alternating feet on the steps. These are definite milestones. However, when it comes to social development, we are on unsteady footing. How soon should they be making friends? Is parallel play okay? Why are the kids ignoring one another? How do you help your kids make friends? Here are some tips to that end –

1. Give them the skills

Teach them to take turns, share their stuff and be polite. It starts right at home and it’s these practices that are often successful at helping them bond with other kids in a different social environment, be it a play date or at school. Role playing will also greatly benefit kids to learn the right social behaviour as instructed by you. Therefore as parents, the onus is on us to demonstrate good social behaviour – this means not cutting lines in a supermarket or apologizing while colliding on someone in the subway. Kids observe everything and are likely to take cues from your behaviour.

2. Playdates

But you already knew this! Playdates are fantastic opportunities for your kids to socialize in the security of a home, under supervision and ways to build friendships with kids they will likely frequently have access to. During playdates, you can emphasize on the ability to play with each other, take turns and play a host. As a host, you can teach your child to entertain others’ ideas for games, find out if they’re having fun etc., all social cues which will come in handy in a larger group while making more friends. As a parent, resist the urge to intervene, unless things are getting unpleasant or violent for any of the kids. You should allow the kids to figure out their own dynamic.

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3. Help out the shy ones

While some kids are born social butterflies who can easily command a room and make friends, some other kids need some help. Don’t fret if your child needs a bit of a push to make friends or voice himself. It helps to let the kids meet on a comfortable turf first, e.g. pool party in your backyard. The idea is to give the shy kids an opportunity to mingle in the comfort of familiar environments. Trying to keep them home or away from anxiety inducing social environments may have the opposite effect and needs to be avoided.

4. Acknowledging that every kid is different

Play to your child’s natural instinct. Some kids love meeting other kids every single day while others are happy with just weekend outings. Try to tread the balance between what they want and what you think is appropriate for their age. As they grow, kids start to go to classes, have activities at school and other social engagements which will help them develop into well rounded individuals. With these tips and those engagements, it’s sooner than later that your child too, will be making a whole lot of friends or a few that matter.

Click here to help your child make friends when he feels he has none.

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