How To Get Your Baby to Be More Sociable in Playgroups

ericasunarjo
·6-min read

Social development in childhood is always a concern for new mothers. After all, you want your children to be well-adjusted socially as they move through life. Which why you probably also understand the importance of starting the process of social development right from infancy.

Interestingly though, social development in childhood changes and evolves as your kid grows. Let’s take a look at how that happens and how you can support your child to become more sociable at every stage of his/her life.

Social Development in Childhood: Infancy Stage

Social Development in Childhood
Social Development in Childhood

Its good practice to hold and cuddle your children and make eye contact and talk to them. | Image courtesy: Pixabay

The first social interaction that infants have is obviously with their parents. This is one-on-one interaction, as the baby’s needs are being met.

  • Parents should establish eye contact and talk to their infants, as they feed them, as they change them, and as they bathe them, among other things.

  • Parents should hold and cuddle their children, again making eye contact and talk to them.

  • If there are siblings, there can be additional social development opportunities during playful interactions that reach beyond just parents. These are valuable experiences.

  • If there are no siblings, young cousins, or kids in neighbourhood can provide social interaction that moves an infant forward.

Social Development in Childhood: Toddler Stage

Social Development in Childhood
Social Development in Childhood

Playdates can ensure that your toddler adjusts and joins in active and positive social interaction with others. | Image courtesy: Pixabay

Now, as your kid grows from the infancy stage to the toddler stage, sociability takes a new meaning. Kids at this stage are often placed in playgroup situations with other toddlers.

This may push them to be more sociable than they were used to. And it is also advisable for you to engage in your child in playgroups.

As for you-the parent- you may join “mummy groups” so that you can set up playdates with other toddler moms.

The hope here is that your little one will quickly adjust and join in active and positive social interaction with others. When this doesn’t happen, you might get anxious and wonder what you can do to ‘fix’ this ‘problem.’

This is a natural response.

We all want our little ones to be socially well-adjusted. So, what steps can you take to encourage social development in childhood especially at the toddler stage.

Here are some practical suggestions.

10 Ways To Ensure Social Development in Childhood

Social Development in Childhood
Social Development in Childhood

Image courtesy: Pixabay

1. Don’t Force the Situation

Part of social development in childhood is that it occurs at different rates. Often, it is a matter of how much exposure your little one has to others in social situations since infancy.

2. Teach Your Baby in Playgroup Situations

You can help your little one get more comfortable with playgroups by getting involved yourself. Sit on the floor with your baby and engage in play with another baby close by.

Maybe it is something as simple as rolling a ball to the other child and having the other child roll it back. Your baby needs to observe how social interactions can take place through play.

3. Set Up One-on-One Playdates

Invite a single toddler over. Plan simple play activities that you will lead, so you can teach your child the “give and take” of play. From these, you can graduate to playgroups.

For instance, you can lead an activity of sharing. Have the other child bring a favourite toy. Show your child how to give one of his toys to the playmate, and then ask the playmate to share his toy with your child.

Once your toddler is comfortable in these single social situations, it will be time to introduce him to a larger group.

4. Observe Your Child in Different Environments

There are many different environments in which toddlers can engage in social interactions with others – the playground, a fitness center child care room, a church-related “mummy’s morning out,” to name just a few.

Observe the comfort level your child has in each of these environments. Focus on those that provide the greatest comfort level and gradually introduce him to the others, one at a time.

5. Praise Good Social Interaction

When your child shares a toy or gives something to someone else, be certain that you praise that behaviour. For instance, have your child make a picture and give that picture to a sibling.

Praise the behaviour and explain how happy that sibling is that he made a present for her.

6. Sharing Must Be Taught

Learning to share is difficult for little ones. If they are asked to give a toy to another child, they may very well resist – after all, that toy belongs to them. Start the sharing process at home.

If there are siblings, ask your little one to share part of a snack he/she is eating, and have the sibling do the same. If there aren’t siblings, then you must do it yourself.

Ask your child to let you play with one of his/her toys. And give your child something of yours to play with. Then return his/her toy and have him/her return your item. And tell him/her “good job!” when he/she does this.

Dorian Martin, an early childhood education researcher and writer for Trust My Paper, puts it this way: “I help early childhood education majors with their essays and papers on a daily basis. One area of frequent research is this whole concept of teaching social skills, especially the give and take of sharing. Every expert on the subject states that this does not come naturally – it must be taught.”

7. Find Picture Books and Videos that Show Social Interactions

There are just tonnes of these available, in bookstores, online, and through educational television channels.

When you use online or television sources, make sure that you watch these with your child so that you can comment on the great social behaviour of the “actors.” These are great modelling experiences for your child.

8. Promote Comfort in Public Places

An important part of baby social development will involve going to public places – grocery stores, restaurants, the beach, and such – so that they can observe social interactions among lots of different age groups and even be participants.

Grocery store clerks and waitresses, for instance, will greet you and probably your little one. Teaching him/her to respond when greeted promotes good social skills.

And your kid can observe first-hand how you interact well with strangers.

9. Use Puppets to Role Play Social Interactions with Other Children

You can set up any number of scenarios that involve anything from greeting one another, to sharing toys, to simple conversations.

The latter could include questions such as “What is your favourite colour?” “Do you like cookies?” “Would you like one of my cookies?”

You can also introduce common social responses, such as “Please” and “Thank you.”

10. If Daycare is in the Picture

If you are worried about your child’s social development, be up front with the daycare center teachers about this concern. Ask them how they work to develop baby social development.

You want this to be an important part of the center’s curriculum so that your child has the types of experiences that will foster comfort in playgroups.

Choose a daycare environment that fosters social skill development.

With these practical tips in place, you can ensure that your child becomes more sociable–not just in playgroups but also later in life.

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