Socialization in early childhood is a very important step for a child to become a skillful adult and successfully deal with difficult situations later in life. Interacting with adults and other kids is critical for them to become problem-solving individuals and develop clear communication, tolerance, empathy, flexibility and emotional intelligence.
In early education, schools take a lot of responsibility for teaching and socializing children, but parents and caregivers can also play a big part in this learning process. Socialization happens naturally in a child’s life and it can get strengthened out of school time by their parents.
Now, do you have any idea of how you can encourage childhood socialization? To help you collaborate with your child’s development we gathered seven tips that can help you boost your their social skills. Keep reading!
Follow the child’s interests
Adults sometimes can have this idea that they are going to shape the child to later become exactly what they want them to be. Remember that besides your expectations as a caregiver, children also have their own interests and it is very important to stimulate them to understand who they are.
Be open minded, observe and allow them to express their personal identity through desires, activities, toys and interests. Once you understand what draws the kid’s attention, use it to introduce socialization: artistic activities like dancing, drawing, singing can work just fine when interacting with other kids, for example.
Model good social skills
Children learn a lot by just observing and mimicking what’s around them. Socialization in early childhood starts with something as simple as a child seeing small actions and feeling the energy that adults and other kids give off around them.
With that in mind, be aware of how you respond and react to different situations in front of your child. Pay attention to how you deal with conflicts, how you cope with negative emotions. Do your research about emotional intelligence and be ready to teach little ones how to calm down and manage emotions such as anger, frustration and sadness.
The meaning of empathy consists in the ability to share another person’s feelings or experiences by imagining if you were in this person’s shoes.
This skill is considered a must in the 21st century as we are heading towards a more communicative, collaborative and tolerant environment. Learning it at the early stages of childhood can be a game changer for this future adult.
Through sharing, active listening, eye contact, respecting personal space and being present, we can teach empathy and cause a positive impact even if the child is dealing with uncomfortable emotions and conflicts.
Encourage your child to play with other children
There is nothing better to learn a skill than in the practical way: interacting with other kiddos can be an enriching experience to develop social skills. In the early stages of socialization, children can be a bit skeptical about opening up to other people, especially if they are met with a negative experience beforehand.
Encourage your child to interact and play with other children while being at a park or inviting neighbors, friends and family over. In the beginning, you can also choose other kids that show a more easy going and approachable behavior to promote a good experience for your child.
Some children will prefer to play and engage with adults because it can be more predictable: they tend to be more easy going and cater to the child’s needs. Parents can at moments act like young ones by opposing ideas, such as demanding to go first, wanting to play another game, or even playing to win. This practice helps them feel more comfortable with small conflicts and also teaches them how to be flexible.
Include your child in group activities
Socialization in early childhood can be easily stimulated by joining group activities. As mentioned above, discover what your child is into and find groups that share the same interests.
Having a playgroup at a local park, a book group at the library for story time and even taking swimming classe are some activities that can encourage the child to interact with other adults and children.
Attending social gatherings, with family or friends, also can stimulate interaction with other people and boost self expression and self confidence with time.
Give your child space to solve problems
Parents and caregivers always have the urge to protect their children: It’s pure instinct. Yet, too much protection can cause a negative effect in a child’s life. Giving space so the little ones can figure out how to deal with a specific situation is healthy and stimulates problem-solving skills.
Even though you might have the impulse to help, try not to interfere in every minor problem. Step back and push them a little bit to find a solution themselves. This practice can help them develop self confidence and independence which will interfere in their socialization. Children can do a lot when we don’t give them all the answers.
Role play with your child
We mentioned that children learn through observing and mimicking, right? What could be a better way to teach them something than simulating a situation? Role play can be key to introducing your child ways to go about playing with others, making friends and even dealing with small conflicts.
Start with small conversations while explaining important things so they can join the situation and learn in a practical way.
As you can see, there are a lot of small steps that can encourage children’s social skills. As much as parents and family can introduce and help children develop these abilities, a good early childhood education program is extremely important to stimulate these skills in an environment that brings routine and constant interaction with other children.
Going beyond teaching technical knowledge, it’s very important for children to learn how to be problem-solvers, independent, resilient, have emotional intelligence and clear communication. A high quality educational program will focus on the learning of soft skills to ensure a better future for our children.
Learn more about the importance of early childhood education in our blogpost and learn how to ensure the best education for our children.