When toddlers grow up, social skills are an important part of their development. The friends they make at this young age will teach them what they can only learn from other children. Their language and social skills develop when they go on playdates with children their age. Here are 6 ways you can help your toddler make friends and bring a boost to their development.
- Do not Enforce
When you see your child playing next to another one without any interactions, do not enforce. This is called the parallel play which is normal. The transition from this parallel play to parallel aware play takes a few minutes. Your child will do his/her thing while playing parallel to another child who is busy playing with something else. Slowly, the children will start to imitate each other and become aware of what the other is doing. This is a sign that your child is building social and interactive skills which is the foundation of making friends.
- Keep Things Simple
Do not expect your child to simply go over to a child he/she sees in a park and make friends. You will have to provide the opportunity for your toddler to be able to get access to making new friends. Start by planning playdates at your home with 3 children maximum. Try to replicate these playdates often so that your child can familiarize the faces and becomes more comfortable.
- Prepare Your Home
When you plan a playdate with your friend or cousin, make sure that everything around your home is safe for toddlers to play with. Use child lock on drawers and doors and stack all breakable things away. Make sure that your home is safe for toddlers to play in, allow them to run around and play with toys. Have some snacks ready because when toddlers get tired and hungry, there can be unwanted fights and tantrums. Having snacks can make toddlers feel better.
- Time it Right
Make sure that when you plan a playdate, it does not collide around with nap times. Toddlers tend to get cranky before nap times. So keep it at a time when your child is fresh and have a lot of energy stored. If you notice that your child is starting to get annoyed between a playdate, take your child away. A meltdown with friends will bring about a negative feeling which your child may not want to continue later on. In your child’s mind, playdates should be restricted to happy and fun times.
- Carefully Select Toys to be Shared
If your child has a favorite toy, put it away when the playdate starts. Some toys should not be shared and this is absolutely normal. The concept of sharing takes times for toddlers to grasp as they do not understand that when another child is playing with their toys, they will get it back. Try to arrange activities that would involve your child with the others so that solo play is not involved.
- Teach At The Right Moments
When your toddler makes new friends, it is a good opportunity to teach him/her empathy and positive values. Teach them emotions like happiness and being upset. Try not to intervene immediately and allow your child to navigate through the situation on their own. Using these words can develop their vocabulary and language skills.