Socialising can be tough, especially for kids as they are growing up – it’s not something that always comes naturally and some will struggle more than others. Understanding boundaries, how to react to emotions, getting along with others, cooperation and sharing are all areas your kids will need to learn. It isn’t really until 2 to 3 years old that kids actually start interacting with each other and learning how to socialise.
Depending on their age you might be wondering about their progress socially, but try not to worry as these are skills that will be learned over time and through daycare or playgroups, school and other social activities they attend. Here are some helpful activities you can do with your child to encourage their social development.
Encourage eye contact
Try to make them compete in a staring contest if you can. This will make them build confidence and understand how to interact with someone in a conversation.
Emotion identification games
Ask your little one to make faces depending on the emotion you call out, such as anger, sadness, or happiness. When they learn how to make big, smiling faces versus pouting frowns they are more apt to notice it in others. This will help with their emotional understanding.
Games where they must take turns
Passing an object back and forth, especially a bouncy ball, will teach them to share and ask for things properly. Working on this with a stranger will also help them to interact with unknown people and learn cooperation.
Simon says is a perfect activity to help kids learn how to control themselves and listen to instructions. great and paying attention are important to developing socially, and games like this will be a fun way to encourage it.
Regulating emotions is not easy for anyone to do, even adults still. So, starting at a young age is key. To simulate a dramatic moment, you can create a conflict that they must pretend to work through. For example, have them pretend they are running a clothing store and see how their delegation and responsibility traits unfold. Once they reach conflict they will learn how to overcome it.
Make songs together
Having your little one sing with friends to complete a game will instil cooperation and sympathetic behaviour. Doing anything while joined with others will force them to get along well with others.
Development is a stressful subject; you want your kid to be hitting every mark on time and with stride. However, not all kids are the same and socialising isn’t black and white. Some will be little social butterflies from the get-go, and others will need a little gentle encouragement. Still, if you think your little one could use some more practice (some of us adults probably could too), definitely consider trying out a few of these games.