All children have different ways of being social. Some are little chatterboxes, while others take a while to come out of their shell. Some have a shy phase, which they might grow out of or might not, and others never experience one. Whatever your child’s personality, you probably want them to have good social skills. They can include being polite and using good manners, as well as the ability to make friends. As your child gets older, their social skills get more and more important. You can help to develop them from the day your baby is born,which will help them as they approach school age and beyond.
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Try a Few Hours at Pre-school
When your child is a baby, you might not worry too much about them spending time with other babies. But as they get older, you start to consider how they might learn to interact with other children their age. One way to do this is to look into pre-school, where your child could spend anywhere from a few hours a week to several hours a day. Any pre-school website like the Rainbow Pre-School site, will explain what your child can expect. At pre-school, your toddler will learn to share, stand up for themselves, and play with others.
This is also a great way to get input about your child if you are concerned with your child’s social skills. Maybe you are seeing your child withdraw instead of engage with other children when he or she is at the park. This could simply mean that your child is shy or slow to warm up. However, it could also signal something like Autism Spectrum Disorder. Having another opinion about your child’s social skills is valuable, especially if you have thought about seeking out advice from a pediatrician.
Get Together with Other Parents
Another way to ensure your child gets to spend time with other children is to get together with other parents. Most parents know others who are parents, or can meet them in various settings. Meeting up with other parents will often mean that your child gets to spend time with children of different ages. This is good for everyone, as younger children learn how to interact with older children and vice versa. It also gives you child more experience socialising with other adults who they’re not related to.
Make sure to choose a group that is right for both you and your child. If your child has special needs, you may want to seek out a group in your area concerned with special needs. You will receive better advice and support from these parent groups, and quite often these groups offer more support for your child as well. A great place to start looking is Facebook groups. With the digital age, most groups are on Facebook
Set a Good Example
Children learn by watching others so setting a good example for your child is important. This means speaking to them in the way you want them to talk to you, as well as doing the same with others when they’re with you. For example, if you want your child to say “please” and “thank you”, make sure you’re polite and use your manners with them and others. If you wouldn’t want your child treating other people rudely, make sure you don’t do it. Once they start copying you, it can be hard to get them to stop.
Your child will also feed off of your emotions. If you have trouble in social settings, you may transfer this on to your child. Many special needs parents develop a bit of social anxiety due to past negative encounters with other parents. If this is you, make sure that you help your child by helping yourself to overcome this anxiety. If social events are difficult for you, try limiting the amount of time you are there, or find another trusted adult to help you. Finding the right, supportive parent group can really make the difference too.
Be Engaging and Encouraging
If you want your child to have good social skills, you have to be willing to engage and interact with them. While it’s not always the best time to have a conversation with your toddler, try not to brush them off. If you’re in the middle of something, you can ask them to wait a moment, which is all part of learning social skills. Praise your child when they’re polite or kind to encourage the behaviors you want to see in them. Using stories can help your child learn about social skills in a safe manner. One of my personal favorites is the book shown below. To learn more about it, simply click on the image.
You can help your child to build their social skills in a variety of ways. Give them opportunities to socialize with others in different settings.