No one wants their child to be a loner, but forcing them to socialise isn’t the answer, either. Here’s how to nudge your little one towards making new friends:
- Set an example
Children can benefit from you taking them to the park, shopping or going to the library where they can naturally learn to copy you in social settings and play with any children they meet.
- Throw a family get together
If your child is shy by nature, making playdates with other children could just make the problem worse. Instead, involve familiar adults such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and trusted friends who will be better able to engage a shy child than a fellow toddler.
- Have a pep talk
Always prep your child before entering social settings, letting him know where you’re going and how you expect him to behave. If your child is going through a hitting stage, reiterate ‘no hitting’ before you arrive at your destination. If there is a tussle over a toy, give the children a few minutes to try to work it out before you step in.
- Teach them to empathise
If lack of sharing or taking turns becomes a bigger struggle – hitting, pushing, or crying – it’s time to step in and teach your little one to empathise. Say, ‘We don’t throw things at people. It hurts.’ Over time your child will learn the rules of the sandpit, and you can step back and watch their social life flourish (while you have a good old gossip with all the other mums!).