Encouraging your child to socialise
- Spend lots of face-time with your baby. If you spend some time every day making faces with your baby, he'll not only love all the attention but he’ll learn how to make faces back at you, which he’ll also enjoy. Babies love visitors so invite friends and family over so they can get in on the action too.
- Don’t be upset or anxious if separation anxiety hits. Separation anxiety is very normal part of your baby’s development and will usually disappear by 18 months. If you need your baby to be OK about you leaving him (you’re returning to work, or expecting another baby) try introducing a gentle desensitization process by letting him get comfortable in your arms while another person is in the room. Ask the friend to play with him while he sits in you lap, and once he’s comfortable with that, try transferring him into the lap of the friend but stay close. If this is successful, trying leaving the room for a few moments. If your child cries, take him back and try again later.
- Toddlers learn social skills by playing with friends. Yes, toddlers are notoriously tricky when it comes to sharing and turn-taking but they’ll never learn those vital skills unless they get to practise them. Invite a friend over to play, but make sure you have enough toys for everyone to play with so you can (hopefully) avoid sharing issues!
- Don’t worry if your toddler isn’t polite. Children this age are naturally self-centered and lacking social graces, but he’ll learn best if you model the behaviour you wish to instil in him. Remind him of his manners, how to wait for his turn, how to be gracious and complimentary. Eventually it will make an impression!
- Join a playgroup or music or gym class. Classes and groups are a great way for your child to make new friends and to practise his social skills – and the added bonus here is that he can focus on a shared activity rather than the new friendship.
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