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Socialization is an important aspect for proper child growth. Learn why your young child should be playing with friends and how it will help them learn about the world around them.
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The time that your child spends interacting
with other children is a lot more than just “play”. They are learning to
socialize, which is a very important part of healthy development. Playing
together gives children an opportunity to learn social skills, confidence,
language development and consideration for others.
Stranger anxiety is also a common part of
child development, so at first, all the new sounds and faces might scare your
child, especially as a baby. Take it slowly, and follow their lead. Knowing
that mommy or daddy isn’t far away can help your child ease into socializing.
In the meanwhile, just watching other babies will be fun for your baby too!
It may take some time for their play
activities to involve another child directly, though – children under 5
generally engage in something called “parallel play”, where they will be
spending time with other children but still “doing their own thing”, for
example playing Lego separately while sitting together at a table. However, the
time that they spend seeing what other children are doing is also very
stimulating for their development, and over time they will become more
confident in direct interaction.
how can I help my little one?
As a parent, you can encourage your child’s
socialization through playdates, and play events such as playgroups. Social
skills are truly a “skill”, gained through practice and experience; by giving
your child the opportunity to develop these skills, you are helping them to learn
If your child is clinging to you and
nervous at playdates or playgroup, get down on the floor with them and
encourage their confidence through your presence in the interaction. Introduce
your child to other children, and play with toys as a group.
It’s great to have a variety of places to
go and activities to do with your child, but going to the same place once or
twice a week (the children’s section of the library, a “baby gym” class, the
park, etc.) can give them a sense of familiarity through repetition, like a
“home away from home”. Make outings where they can socialize into part of their
regular routine, and gradually any nervousness about socialization will be
replaced by enjoyment.
By the same token, it’s also great if they can see some
familiar faces as well as new ones, so if your child seems to get on well with
a particular child at playgroup, etc., you could make playdates with that child
into a regular part of your routine as well!
It’s all too easy as an adult to only
expose your child to other adults, especially if (like many parents!) you don’t
have relatives or friends with young children. But remember: socializing with
one’s own age group (for example, the children of one’s village) has been a
time-honoured way for children to learn to socialize. Their peers are at a
similar developmental stage, and have a lot to teach them.
Make the time to ensure that your child is
playing with others in their own age group, and it will pay off handsomely in
terms of watching their progress towards being a confident, sociable child.
Just bringing two children of the same age group together is very stimulating
for both of them, as they learn to share, care and chatter with each other.
Being a mother of two beautiful toddlers is my full time job. My part time job is pregnancy consulting. Follow me on my blog at http://maternityathome.com to learn about pregnancy!
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