Socialising with other children is a key stage in your toddler’s life. It’s an exciting way of building up new friendships, helps to develop your child’s communication skills, and understand more about how the world works.
We’ve put together a guide on when and how socialising your child can be beneficial, and how they can make new friends in the process.
From birth we require contact with others, initially it is the love and nurture that we need from our parents and family. As a baby we receive physical contact from our mothers, such as being fed milk, skin-to-skin contact and cuddling with their parents. Scientists believe that babies can understand social cues before being born i.e. recognising their mother’s voice whilst being in the womb and being able to understand infant-directed speech later after birth, as it is this speech that they usually prefer. Our environment and upbringing does impact on how sociable we grow up to be, and how we relate to others.
1 Year Old
The first year of a child’s life is full of milestones and developments. During their first year, a baby will start developing their physical skills. They show this by grabbing nearby objects and learning how to walk. You can help them by creating a routine and safe areas around the house, as well as assisting with sitting up properly. Be sure to let them develop their skills at their own pace, as every child develops at different ages so there is no need to rush natural development.
As your child reaches toddler age around 2- 3 years old, your child will start showing signs that it’s time to start socialising them outside of family circles.
2 Years Old
At this age, majority of infants will be steady on their feet and be able to walk around. They will also start reaching out to play with other children, but not sharing any toys with them. We recommend introducing them to other children if that is the case. You could also try signing up for a class or a parent-focused meet up group in your local area. Let your child take their time in wanting to play with others.
Once your child is ready to socialise, attending a local nursery or toddler group to play with others offers a good opportunity. Nursery activities are a crucial aspect in helping a child to develop their communication and learning skills. They also help to build up the trust between children and other adults and allow the former to learn about new social settings.
At Scallywags Nursery, we encourage children to take part in various activities, so that they may learn about the world around them. We run music sessions with a teacher, which helps toddlers acquire skills in rhythm and pitch through the use of instruments, singing and listening. By working together with other children, your child will be involved in an environment that allows them to make new friends and develop new skills along the way.
Group activities also help a child with their socialisation skills.
Along with our music sessions, we have other group focused activities that encourage socialising. One of these is the sensory room, where the children use their bodily senses (Sight, smell and touch) to explore the room. It is an activity that allows them to become familiar with being in a different environment, as well as promoting socialisation through the use of problem solving together as a team.
You can also try to encourage social development yourself, by talking to your child through baby talk and using eye contact, teaching them about being empathetic to others around them, and gently encouraging them to try new experiences.
Yoga sessions for younger children is another group activity that we organise at Scallywags. This consists of toddlers being placed in ability groups, based on how skilled they are in the activity. This exercise class encourages teamwork amongst the toddlers, allowing them to improve on their mobility skills and build up friendships with other children by working and communicating together.
Telling and reading stories helps to develop a child’s understanding on how to relate/react to another child’s feelings. Many children’s stories speak about our emotions, such as feeling happy, sad, excited etc, and with this concept, your child will have more knowledge on other children’s emotions. Empathy for others is demonstrated and learned by how you react and relate to your child and how you as a parent relate to those around you. For example, if a child falls down and hurts themselves, explain to your child what has happened and how they can help that toddler to feel better. As a parent responding to the situation in a loving and practical way, we help your toddler understand how to respond.
They say that children learn what they live and therefore as a parent the main influence on a child’s social development is you and the environments they experience. Babies and toddlers are programmed to mimic behaviours. Communication and nature with your child are key to developing a confident and sociable individual.