Posted on: May 26, 2017
Despite toddlers being these carefree individuals who appear happy enough to speak to anyone, they are still human after all. It is therefore no surprise that toddlers sometimes let their own fears get in the way of their social interactions, and this can sometimes invoke negative attitudes or associations with social situations down the line. Famous social child psychologist Albert Bandura believed in the importance of a child being able to adapt to given situations in the most appropriate manner, to quote; “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.”
There are 3 steps involved in helping your child develop social intelligence. The first of which is helping them learn how to manage their emotions. The second? Helping them develop empathy for others, and last but certainly not least, showing them how to express their needs and feelings without attacking. So, where do you start?
Kids who receive a lot of empathy for their own feelings from adults are the earliest ones to develop empathy for others. Don’t be afraid to let your child know you understand how they feel, and that you can relate to them. Research shows that empathy for others is the cornerstone of successful interpersonal relationships!
2) Stay Close During Playgroups
Many kids end up hitting during social interactions because they get so excited and don’t know what else to do. However if you stay close, you will be there to correct this sort of behaviour and show them how they can deal with the situation in a more appropriate manner.
3) Don’t Force Them To Share!
Believe it or not, forcing them to do so actually delays the development of sharing skills. Kids need to feel secure in their ownership before they can share. Instead, what you can do is introduce the concept of taking turns; “It’s Michael’s turn to use the toy car, then it will be your turn. I’ll help you wait”.
4) Let The Child Decide How Long Their Turn Lasts
If a child is expecting the adult to snatch a toy away once a certain amount of time has passed, it is because you have modelled the action of “grabbing”. What does this mean? Usually kids who are exposed to this at a young age over a significant period of time become more possessive. If your child is free to use a toy for as long as they want, they can give it up with an open heart. If the same child uses the same toy over and over, you can buy a duplicate or reinforce the concept of taking turns.
5) Help Your Child Wait
Does your child have a meltdown when waiting for their turn? Chances are there are some big feelings to let out, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so! Now is the perfect time to emphasise, as adults often feel this frustration in many different forms too. Say “I know you don’t want to wait, I don’t want to wait too, but let’s wait together and I promise it will be your turn before you even know it”. Perhaps you can even play some basic hand games (stone, paper, scissors) to show them that waiting isn’t so bad after all.
6) Stop Compulsive Grabbing
Sometimes when kids grab other kids’ toys, it is because they are playing a game with each other. So if you see some grabbing going on, just take a step back and observe before reacting. If one of the other kids ends up being unhappy, then it’s the perfect time to intervene. Put your hand on the disputed toy and ask if they want to use it, if not, let them know that someone else is still using it and that you will get a turn once they are finished. You can suggest something else to do in the meantime, and if a meltdown occurs, comfort your child through it.
7) Teach Assertiveness
If kids often take things away from your child against their wishes, you can reinforce their will to do something about it. If you see it happen, go up to your child and ask if they were finished with the toy. If not, make sure they go up to the child who took it away and say that they were still using it. You can practice this at home before a real-life situation occurs!
8) Make Your Child Understand How Sharing Is Good For Others
Research shows that when parents praise sharing, kids end up doing it more. But there’s a catch, it only happens when we are watching! Therefore, instead of praising the act of sharing “just because” it’s good, praise the act of sharing from the perspective that it makes other people happy! For example, don’t just say “good job for sharing your toy with Ana”, say “look at how happy Ana is after you shared your toy with her”.
Follow these simple steps, and watch your child become a social butterfly! Why not take a look at 5 values to teach your child before the age of 5? Are you a movie fan? Check out “Boyhood”, the film follows the story of a boy called Mason, all the way from early childhood to his arrival at college. The movie was released in 2014 and currently holds a 7.9/10 rating on IMDb.