We all want our kids to develop in the various areas of life (mentally, emotionally, socially) and prepare them to become well-rounded individuals. Some parents make the mistake of believing that attending school will give their little ones the social skills they need to thrive, but this is not always the case. Some children require additional assistance and encouragement in this area. Social skills are not often a high priority for parents, but they are just as important as the other skills your child is learning. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few simple things you can do to support your child’s social development.
One of the best things that you can do to help your little ones be more comfortable in social situations is to arrange regular playdates. Simply put, these are times where your child will hang out with someone around their age in a quieter setting, usually in a smaller number. Getting to spend time with another child one on one can help them to better understand reactions and emotions on a personal level. Having this exposure will have a positive impact on their long term development.
Find potential playmates through daycare, school, or at the local park. Choose friends that your child naturally gravitates to, but don’t be afraid to reach out to parents and kids from different backgrounds than yours. This will help your child to learn about the wide variety of people and cultures that we interact with every day. You can also take this opportunity to make Mom (or Dad) friends of your own since you will probably be spending a lot of time with your child’s playdates’ parents.
When your little one attends a club or other extracurricular activity, they develop so many social skills that they might otherwise miss out on in a normal school setting. Encouraging them to attend children STEM classes or join a sports team will give them the tools and resources they need to find an interest and meet new people. They will learn great skills such as how to work as a team, how to encourage others, how to take the lead, and how to have confidence in yourself and your own abilities.
Before enrolling your child in an activity, let him/her have input in deciding which one to try. Set a trial period to allow enough time for your child to give it a fair shot. After that point, reevaluate interest levels, schedules, and decide if this is something that you and your child want to commit to long-term.
The relationship that children have with their parents will set the example by which they form all other relationships and interact with others. The main thing that children want from their parents is attention and time to play together. You don’t have to buy your kids expensive electronics or go on elaborate vacations to make them happy. Simple toys like Magna-Tiles can foster creativity and a loving relationship between parent and child.
Other ways to bond with your child include reading books, planting a garden, and cooking together. These activities are relatively low in cost but very valuable in helping you nurture a loving relationship with your children.