Ideas to help Social Development
- Maintain a loving relationship with your child. Children who are firmly attached to their care-givers are more likely to be more confident in new environments and are more able to be empathetic towards others.
- Display positive, warm emotions at home. It’s not necessary (or realistic!) to be in a constant state of good cheer. Sometimes parents experience setbacks or loss, and these can be opportunities for children to learn how we deal with, but the key is demonstrating a positive, "can-do" attitude towards setbacks, rather than anger or despair. The children with the most developed preschool social skills are the ones who experience more positive emotions at home.
- Encourage an upbeat, problem-solving attitude. When your child has social problems with peers, encourage a positive, constructive attitude. Children with the strongest social skills treat rebuffs as temporary setbacks that can be improved. You can encourage this attitude by suggesting socially “generous” reasons for social rejection (like “Maybe he’s just shy,” or “maybe he just wants to play by himself for a while.”).
- Encourage your child to look at your face and to try and make eye contact with you when they speak to you and to other people.
- Be a role model. During every day social interactions, take advantage of the opportunity to discuss social behavior (“I thanked the post man for bringing us the package. She works hard and I want her to know that I appreciate it.”) If your child sees you or other adults slipping up, talk about it afterwards (“Whoops. I forget to say ‘thank you’ to Daddy for bring me the book.”) These help children to learn to respect others.
- Encourage imaginative play with older children and adults. During preschool years, imaginative play is one of the most important ways that children forge friendships. If you participate in pretend play with your child, you may give preschool social skills a boost. When parents pretend with kids, pretend play becomes more complex and lasts longer Research indicates that kids with strong preschool social skills have parents who play with them in a cheerful, collaborative way.
- Realise that sharing is difficult. Parents often think of sharing as one of the most important preschool social skills. But sharing can be difficult--even for adults. It’s much tougher for young children, who have difficulty thinking beyond the immediate future. They may have trouble understanding that they will get their toy back. And, to be fair, sometimes the kids they share with don’t give their toys back! Be patient, and when you encourage sharing, try to make it as comfortable as possible. For example, don’t insist that your child share his newest toys or most loved toys. Before friends visit, put these away to avoid conflicts.