Is my toddler social? Social development in the early years.

I remember a time, not too long ago when I was worried about my daughter’s interaction with other kids.

When she turned 2, she still wasn’t interested in playing with other kids her age. I would bring her to Indoor playgrounds or classes so she could be around other kids, but she was more interested in playing with mommy and daddy. Today, I often see that parents come to Big and Tiny concerned about their kids not interacting with other children.

Although much of the interaction for social development comes naturally, enrolling your child in programs can help them through the process. Plus, you get some time for yourself to do work or unwind while your child plays and learns.

Here are some phases of social development for children 2-4 that will help you set some milestones and measure your children’s social progress, which will be crucial for their development of social intelligence and therefore, their success in life.

First steps towards socialization

Some kids are fast to interact with other kids while others are comfortable in their world, absorbed in their imaginative games. At an early age, it is very common for kids to engage in parallel play; to play next to instead of with each other.

As they grow, their interest in the world around them will increase as well. Although there is still not a lot of interaction, it’s essential to offer your child time with other kids during playtime or enrichment programs.

At Big and Tiny, we offer a unique enrichment preschool prep-program that cultivates autonomy and relationships, supporting kids through the process of social development and introducing them concepts such as sharing and taking turns.

Separation Process

It’s very common to suffer from separation anxiety at this age. The timing of separation anxiety can vary. Some kids might go through it later, between 18 months and 2½ years of age. Some never experience it. And for others, certain life stresses such as having a sibling can trigger feelings of anxiety about being separated from a parent. You mind find this article useful to ease your child’s separation anxiety.

At Big and Tiny, we offer a gradual separation drop-in program that fosters independence while developing language, physical and cognitive skills through music, art, movement and play – a useful and gentle tool to get them ready for preschool.

Model Sharing

Now your toddler can play with one other child. During this period, children are introduced to new concepts such as sharing, taking turns or “mine”. They start to defend their territory and fight over toys. Their desires guide their social behavior.

Kids pay close attention to what parents do, so lead by example and show some sharing at home.

Read here some creative ways to teach sharing to kids.

Extend the group

Eventually, kids will begin to seek out interactions beyond Mom and Dad.

The group will grow larger into three and four, and by the time that children join kindergarten, your child will be ready to play in larger groups.

Look for other kids and make friends

Once your child begins a preschool program, he’ll have the opportunity to make some friends. During this age, you’ll find your child drifting towards certain children and starting to develop friendships based on mutual interests.

Cooperative & Role-Play

Gradually children will learn to cooperate when playing with their friends, take turns and sharing. Playtime turns into more imaginative play and role play, which tends to be more cooperative.

As a result, less aggressive behavior and calmer play sessions are common. However, there will be times when your child is frustrated. Talking about feelings and emotions can be helpful to overcome the situation.

Sense of Identity

Your kid will discover their own personal qualities while also realizing other children have their own unique qualities. These will have great importance for self-esteem.

During this period, kids will go through an identification process. Girls will most likely be interested in dresses and makeup while boys will play with trucks. This behavior reinforces their sense of being male or female.

Understand Feelings & Empathy

At this stage, your kids are sensitive to feelings and actions. Children can understand compromise and be respectful to one another.

During this phase, it’s important to assist them to manage personal feelings, understand others’ feelings and needs, and interact respectfully and acceptably. Kids will also start to show empathy by offering support and love to others.

The truth is that same as with adults; kids are introverts and extroverts as well. It’s important to offer them time to spend with other kids by joining playgroups or enrolling them in enrichment programs that support them through the social development process.

Most important of all, understanding and respecting your child’s needs and rhythm.




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