It’s great if you have a naturally sociable toddler. Some children find social interaction easy. For others, learning to relate comfortably to other people can take a while.
Social interaction is a very natural and important part of life for all of us. Children are programmed from birth to interact with their caregivers. From a very young age your baby will have made eye contact with you and smiled at you. Your baby’s babbling is his first attempt at communicating with you through speech.
By the time your baby becomes a toddler he will have established a wide range of communication skills through his interaction with you, the rest of his close family, other relatives and friends of the family. Also, if he has spent time being looked after in a nursery he will have had an even wider range of social interactions.
For naturally a
sociable toddler, social interaction is fun. He will be easy and
relaxed with other people and enjoy their company. These children do
not often suffer from separation anxiety. For less sociable toddlers,
learning to interact and feel comfortable new people can be more of a
What can you do to help?
How can you help your toddler to be confident and relaxed in social situations?
most important thing is to ensure that your baby and toddler have lots
of contact with other adults and children from a very early age:
• Go to parent and toddler groups and get to know other parents and children.
• Invite people round to your house for coffee mornings and other social gatherings.
• Make sure you give your child every opportunity to play and interact with lots of children of all ages.
Try out some toddler activity groups. You will find there is a wide
range of these groups available such as toddler music, gym, swimming,
dancing, French…. the list is endless. Do a search on the internet for
toddler activity groups for your area and you are bound to find
something close by.
Do you have a shy child?
Remember that children are all different and that your toddler may be very confident or she may be shy. If your child is confident she will probably have little difficulty interacting with other people. A shy child, however, is a different story.
Take it slowly - It is not really helpful to try to force your toddler to do things that she finds difficult. If your child is shy it is important to let her experience new situations at her own pace. She may want to just sit and watch what other children are doing before she feels confident enough to join in. You can certainly talk to her about what she is observing and encourage her to join in. It may help her if you go and sit down and play with her amongst the other children. That way you are very nearby until she decides it is safe enough to take part in whatever is going on. The more your toddler sees that you are willing to be patient with her and respect her need to take things slowly, the more confident she is likely to become over time.
Develop your own social skills - You are also more likely to have a sociable toddler if you are a sociable person yourself. If you find social interaction difficult, then it is worth find ways to help yourself with this. In fact, having a young child is the perfect time to increase your social skills. It always seems to be that if you have a young child (or a dog!) people will stop and talk to you. When someone talks to you about your toddler, try smiling and talking to them. I am sure you can think of many things to say about your child and the other person is sure to be interested as they started the conversation. You might find yourself making more friends than you expected!
Also, having a small child gives you the opportunity to visit parent and toddler groups and other activity groups mentioned above. This is a perfect opportunity for you to meet other mums and dads who have many interests in common with you. There is never a shortage of things to talk about when you can compare notes on your children's development, sleep patterns, food likes and dislikes, etc. We all love to talk about our children.
So go out with your child/children and meet new people. It will make your lives more interesting and fun and increase your circle of friends at the same time.