Read more here how to encouraging good social skills Featured

Toddlers are not exactly renowned for their good manners and social charms. Read more on social skills.

As any mom who has ever been to a reasonably nice restaurant would know. These are skills they need to acquire in order to function well in society and make meaningful connections with others.  

Good social skills will ensure that your toddler makes friends easily, and keeps them, avoids isolation from others, and makes his way successfully through the world with a clear sense of belonging. If your child seems overly shy and struggles to interact with others, there are some ways to help him become more social. Although there is nothing wrong with being shy, you can teach your toddler how to cope with it and make friends anyway.

Organise playdates

Before your toddler even starts attending school, you can start to introduce the concept of socialisation. Encourage interaction with other children by taking your little one to the local park, or organising regular playdates with other moms. Join a mother and baby class, such as Moms and Babes or Moms and Tots – this is a great way to socialise your toddler, and interact with other moms going through the same things as you.

Carol Lambrechts (34), a Benoni mother of a two-year-old boy, Wren, believes that the social aspects of attending classes like Moms and Babes and mom and baby swimming classes far outweigh any other benefits. “It also helped me, as a new mom, with a few pointers on how to interact with my baby on a more meaningful physical level, instead of being unsure about what is possible in those first delicate months. Because of these classes, Wren probably received the stimulation I would not necessarily have initiated on my own.”

Take turns

Teach your toddler to share by showing him how to take turns. Let your little one play with a toy for a while, and then ask if you can have a turn. Show how happy you are to have a turn. Then, give the toy back and tell your child “now it is your turn”. Keep this going for a while until your child gets the idea.

Name emotions

Help your toddler to identify the different emotions by playing games where you ask your child to make a happy face, or a sad face. Sing songs such as ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ and swap the word ‘happy’ with ‘sad’ or ‘cross’, making the appropriate facial expressions for each different emotion.

Act out

Create make-believe worlds with your toddler with dolls or puppets made of socks, and make the characters have conversations with each other. These imaginary scenarios help your child with communication and social skills, as well as problem-solving as the characters overcome imagined ‘difficulties’.

Recite nursery rhymes

Teach your child nursery rhymes and songs with accompanying actions that require more than one participant, such as ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’ and ‘Here we go Round the Mulberry Bush’. Organise playdates where the children can all participate, holding hands and acting out the words of the songs together.

Eat together

Try to eat as many meals together as a family as possible. Move your toddler’s high chair to the table so he can see how everyone eats and behaves at the table. Talk about your day and include your toddler in the conversation; this way your child will learn about manners and conversational turn-taking.

A socially adept child will have empathy for others, be more able to resolve conflicts and have more control over their emotions – which seems an almost impossible dream during the ‘terrible twos’ but is an attainable goal for the future.

Photo credits: Linda Williams at www.visionar.co.za

Additional links:

www.raisesmartkid.com, www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers, http://playhivetoys.com.au, www.earlychildhoodnews.com,

Author bio: Loren Shirley-Carr is a freelance journalist and mother to one toddler and two teenage foster boys.  When she is not in her car ferrying children about, or in the kitchen cooking meals that no one will eat, she can be found at her desk writing. Find her at lorensc@vodamail.co.za

*This article is copyrighted. You are welcome to share it, without altering the contents, giving proper credit to the author and link to this article. Please note Moomie is not a medical website. All information provided here are to be used at your own discretion. Always consult your caregiver for medical advice. 

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