Socialising is something we all seem capable of doing but when we stop to think about it, how did we actually learn this skill? The answer is, when we were very young. Beginning to socialise at a young age makes it so much easier to make friends and continue to do so throughout adulthood, and lead a happier, well-adjusted life.
By the time your baby becomes a toddler, he’s well on the way to being able to communicate. Thanks to you talking to him since he was a newborn, interacting with him, responding to his babble, he’s gained the confidence to smile, talk, react and play with others. This is especially true from about six months onwards, as babies pay more attention to the world around them at this stage.
Between the ages of 12 months and 3 years, toddlers should get used to socialising with other children and adults. There are lots of ways you can achieve this and these are just some of the steps you can take to help your toddler to socialise.
Organised Social Activities
People always say baby groups are great, here’s why! There are so many diverse ways to get your toddler mingling with different children in a range of settings, so he becomes comfortable engaging with others. In addition, these organised activities help to boost his confidence as they include the likes of swimming classes as well as lessons like dance and music.
There are also mother-and-baby groups you can attend, and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) runs various groups and sessions like coffee mornings, picnics and more which you can both go along to. You pay an annual fee to be a member of NCT and then a small amount per event.
These include playgrounds and play dates, and are ideal for creating a relaxed environment for your child to socialise in. For example, you could arrange to meet a friend or two in the park and for your toddlers to play together in the playground – this way, he’ll get to know other children better and begin to form friendships over time.
Play dates are a good way of getting your toddler to play with another child his age, learning to share his space as well as his toys. Invite another child and their mother over for an afternoon of play. This type of interaction is particularly important if your toddler has no siblings, as sharing is an important part of learning to socialise.
Support with Stories
With all the socialising you line up for your little one, be careful not to overdo it! He’ll need some quiet days to complement his social life, and you can use these moments to support his progress when it comes to communication – for example, is he playing nicely with other toddlers? Is he happy to share his toys or unwilling to do so? And is he welcoming of new children?
If there are any issues, such as possessiveness or signs of hostility towards others, it’s important to teach your toddler about empathy. Reading books will help as storybooks contain vital life lessons within them and will help your child begin to understand the importance of thinking of the feelings of others.
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