“Mommy, why does Gramma say I need socials? What’s socials, and why do I need one?” Your toddler or preschooler might not understand what Gramma means or that her thoughts might be outdated if she says her grandchild needs more time with peers, according to parenting expert, Raymond Moore, author of the parent handbook, “Better Late Than Early.” Moore believes that positive sociability occurs best when children associate with people of all ages.
“Mommy, play house with me. Mommy, I want to help you.” Moore suggests that you take advantage of these opportunities to socialize your child by providing a good role model and by teaching him limits and how to take responsibility for small chores such as picking up trash, setting the table or feeding the dog. Your child needs contact with children of various ages and adults who teach appropriate behavior.
When your child plays with children her own age, begin with one or two children and allow the kids to be together for short periods of time until you are sure the little ones can play together appropriately, according to the Child Development Institute. Kids might have a 30-minute play session that includes blocks, bubbles, a tea party, puzzles or story time. Stay where you can observe the little ones and ensure that things continue smoothly. If the kids have a spat, give them time to work it out rather than jumping in to rescue them, as long as the situation doesn’t include aggressive behaviors.
Small groups of children are easier to control in small groups than in the large groups found in many preschool and day care classrooms. Your child’s play group should contain four to five children of various ages and abilities, much like many families. The kids can play games or do crafts together, and the older children might assist the younger kids to play the game or make the crafts. Your child can learn how to negotiate and cooperate with children of various ages and abilities.
Your child’s need for contact with people of all ages doesn’t mean that your child should not associate with peers. Sunday school classes, day care groups and birthday parties. Ensure that there are sufficient numbers of adults to maintain a healthy child: adult ratio, such as four or five to one. Talk to your child about his friends and his emotional connection with them. You can encourage your child’s social adjustment by affirming his ability to problem solve when he has problems with peers and by maintaining a healthy model for social interaction.