The period from the age of 2 to 3 is when toddlers learn about emotions and expressing emotions. This period is often characterized by temper tantrums, inability of toddlers to completely express what they want to convey and language and vocabulary development. It is often termed as Terrible Two’s and it is definitely so for a reason. This period is where toddlers are trying to learn to express and understand their emotions and also develop bonds or friendships with other children. Parents play a huge role during this period to help a Toddler develop Social Skills. Social skills form the basis of life skills and also affect a child’s confidence and sense of self in the growing up years.
Here are 5 Ways a Parent can develop Toddlers’ Social Skills
1) Observing your toddler’s behaviour and monitoring it closely.
At 2 to 2.5 years of age you will often hear toddlers say “Its Mine! ” and ” No you cannot touch that”. This is when toddlers develop a realization of what belongs to them and also these statements are often derived from the fear of losing a beloved toy or a book. It can also be characterized by hitting or lashing out. These are extremely normal responses however this is where instant intervention by a parent at its onset is required to channelize this realization and removing that fear of losing.
2) Taking your Child to a place of play where other unknown children will be present.
The starting point of developing social skills is by taking children to local parks, beaches or playgrounds or even indoor playcentres. Since the play equipment does not belong to any child in particular the toddlers are usually all at a level playing field. Ensuring that there is always a parent to monitor when the child is playing. Teaching them to wait their turn while using the slide or any climbing equipment. Similarly children often start to co-play with each other while using playing equipment. This develops a toddlers confidence and his ability to express himself with other children unknown to him or her.
3) Organizing Play dates.
As a parent trying to give your child opportunities to form friendships and teaching them to share is a very important life skill. I cannot stress how important it is for children to play in small group or in a one on one play with a child close in age group to them. Inviting a friend from Day Care or Kinder over at home which is your child’s familiar surrounding is the best place to start. Having regular catch ups with your friends and their children who may be from a similar age group is another way to introduce your child to more children and toddlers their age.
4) Hobby Classes or Sports
If your child enjoys dancing or playing a sport, as a parent trying to enroll your child in hobby classes or sports is a fabulous way to get your child to meet other children. Since these children would have mutual interests, it is a great basis to form friendships while learning a new skill.
5) Conversations , Singing and Role play
Having regular conversations with your toddler such as asking them how their day was at day care or how are they feeling today are a perfect way to help understand their emotional state. This is also a way to get the toddler to express their emotions. Similarly singing fun songs such as ‘If you are happy and you know it’ are a good way to reiterate emotions and facial cues and body language signs associated with it. This is how a child learns to understand cues in a social setting. Play acting is one way which has helped me with Rey. I try to act out a situation and show Rey his reaction and then explain that it was great or not so great a reaction. What he could have done or said to better that interaction.
By the age of 3 toddlers are generally more confident in expressing themselves verbally and non verbally and it is as this age they are wanting to make friends and learn social skills and communicate with children of their age group. Parents should always monitor their child’s behaviour in any social setting and ensure co-play is fun and enjoyable for their child and other children playing. These are 5 key ways for Parents to develop their Toddler’s Social Skills and help them build a foundation for their life ahead.