Parents and caregivers will often take on the emotions of their toddlers. When children feel sad, parents feel sad. Loneliness not only affects adults, but it also affects your little ones. You want them to have connections and feel secure, whether they’re at the playground, a birthday party, or at preschool. That’s why teaching social skills is so important during early childhood development. However, teaching a toddler prosocial behavior doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of time, energy, and the right environment. It can be difficult for a toddler to understand what friendships look like at this early stage. But it’s important to allow the idea of friendships to sink in. Thankfully, there are things you can do to make sure your toddler has the right tools to build new relationships. Here are a few tips to help you guide your little one with making friends.
Don’t Force It
Many toddlers will start with parallel play when they’re with peers. Parallel play is when they’ll play separately but side-by-side. You’ll notice this happening on carpets in many preschools. Some parents will try to urge their child to join a friend and play together, but that’s not always the best option. Allow them to naturally move towards one another and connect in their own way. Sooner or later, you’ll notice your toddler scooting over and playing with a new friend on their own.
A great way for your toddler to connect with new friends from preschool is arranging a playdate. This gives them an opportunity to learn more about one another in a different setting. Remember that forming relationships are easier when there are fewer peers around, so shoot for one-on-one playdates or two friends at a time. Big groups can be overwhelming, so keeping it simple and intimate can help your toddler feel more secure and confident in making new friends.
Practice Making Friends at Home
Sometimes we use our imaginations when we want to teach social skills! You can use your toddler’s doll collection, stuffed animals, or puppets for these friendship-building exercises. Create different scenarios that call for making new friends. “Does your teddy bear know how to swim? He doesn’t? I bet your alligator knows how to swim. Do you think we can have them help each other?” Get creative! Despite living in the land of make-believe, your toddler will stick pick up on the essence of the exercise. Conducting these friendship exercises with toys at home can be very powerful. Reading bedtime stories about friendship is also a great way to help him make friends.
If you’re looking for a creative and safe environment for your child to learn new things and make friends, visit THE Children’s Academy, one of the best preschools in Springhill, TN. The child development experts at THE Children’s Academy understand that forming relationships at an early age is important for their development. Their curriculum includes lessons on social skills, language skills, and emotional development. Give them a call today (615) 302-0950 to learn more about their exceptional programs in Springhill and Franklin and receive tips and best practices for parents and caregivers!