Social development is so important for your developing child. It determines what type of interaction they will have with society when they become adults. There is no better time for this development than to begin when they are very young, even before they begin school. So it begins at home, when they interact with you–the parent and siblings or neighborhood children.
When a child has trouble getting along with their peers, it is normal for their parents to become uneasy. Your child’s peers provide excitement and fun as your child learns to get along with others. In the absence of those relationships children can become frustrated and painful for young children, whether they show outward signs or not. Research has shown that a young child’s peer relationships are extremely important for their development and adjustment to school. Research has shown that preschool-aged children who have positive peer relationships are more than likely to maintain positive peer interactions in grade school, where children who have a hard time getting along with peers in the preschool years are more likely to experience academic difficulties in their later development and rejection or neglect (to include bullying) by their elementary-school peers.
Here are a few suggestions to help facilitate social growth in your child:
1) Provide your child with opportunities to play with peers. When our children are afforded the opportunity to play with peers, they will develop better, social strategies, especially when they are able to maintain stable relationships with other children. A fun way to do this can be to invite one child (of your child’s choice) to frequently spend time, even in overnight stays with your child. They can become an honorary additional member of the family and possibly become a life time friend for your child.
2) When your children are young parents should Play with them in a “peer- like’ way. Parents of the most socially competent children laugh and smile and play often. You should also avoid criticizing your child during play, and be responsive to your child’s ideas, and allow them to make most of the decisions, by supporting them during their play. Children gain important social skills from parents who play with them in ways that reflect equality in the play interaction.
Parents must also take a problem-solving approach when you suspect that your may be bullied, by helping your child consider various solutions and perspectives. Parents of the most competent children often consider multiple approaches to situations and potential consequences of each resolution.
Here is an example:
Mom: Hey Timmy, what if he takes your truck again, what do you think you will do?
Child: I’ll hit him really hard!
Mom: Really? What do you think he will do if you hit him?
Child: He will give me my truck back and won’t take it again?
Mom: You think so? You don’t think he’d just hit you back, and then you two might get into a big fight, and not be friends anymore.
Child: Oh, maybe..
Mom: Maybe you could try something else. What else do you think you could do?
Child: I could say please give me my truck?
Mom: That is a nice way to try and get it back. Do you think that might work?Child: No. Not really.
Mom: Well, maybe not. But it could work.
The above example is a way of showing your child the right way to problem solve during play. If the situation were more extreme or in the event that the above is ineffective, your child should always tell the teacher or other child care giver immediately.
Playing and interacting with your child, to include helping them problem solve only helps to enhance their social skills which they can draw on when the situation arises 😉
As usual, I would love to know your thoughts…