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Child Development Topics..

 
You are here : home > Child Development > Social Behaviour > Social Skills

Developing Social Skills in Babies and Toddlers




Nurturing social relationships makes babies and toddlers feel safe, confident and comfortable to explore the world and people around them. It teaches them to develop strong interpersonal relationships, positively process emotions and face challenges head on as adults. Read on to know how you can help your baby develop confident social skills.

Ancient wisdom states that your child's personality starts developing when she is still in the womb.  In the womb, the baby listens to your voice and learns to recognise that your voice is different from all others. You can deduce your toddler’s future temperament and manner of social interactions from the amount of sleep and activity she indulges in from infancy. When you show a newborn pictures of people and pictures of other things or places, she immediately focuses on the people. Because her eyesight is blurry at this stage, she simply studies the outlines of the faces. Further on, she will begin to studiously scrutinise facial expressions. In the first few months, she begins practicing her facial expressions following which; not only will she be able to distinguish between different facial emotions but will also begin to practice how to convey her own emotions.

Have you noticed that a baby, who is too young to play with other children, observes them endlessly with a smile on her face and with her body leaning forward towards the children? This is because she, too, wants to play with them and is busy learning how to play from studying them. She will not mind if an older child takes away her toy or plays with it because she is more interested in seeing the older child’s expressions and behaviour and how she plays with the toy.

Therefore, even though your baby may be unable to speak or walk properly, she still has a busy social life from the moment she is conceived.

For the most part, parents have innate knowledge on how to develop their baby’s social skills. In order to know more about what you can do to ensure that your child feels confident and safe interacting with others, read the following tips on developing social skills:


Letting Others Hold Your Baby

Does your baby cry every time someone tries to take her from you? Often parents try to encourage their babies to be more comfortable around new people by letting other adults hold their baby despite protests. This may not always be the best way to deal with it as it increases your baby's insecurities instead of making her more comfortable around new faces. It would be better to continue carrying your child, and letting her first get familiar with the new face before handing her over. If your child protests, take her back and soothe her. If this continues many times, let the other person carry her while you talk to and soothe the baby. This will make the child realise that just because some new person is holding her, it does not mean that you are abandoning her. Familiarise her with as many people as possible, especially with her grandparents - who are sure to lavish her with attention.


Playing Peek-A-Boo

Your baby shares a bond with you from the moment she is born. She recognises your face even though she can barely see when she is born. She relies on you to be around when she is scared, insecure or uncomfortable. That can turn into a habit if you do not teach her that she is fine on her own. Hiding your face behind your hands means “mommy is gone” in baby speak, and then, “Boo! Mommy is back!” Your baby’s happy gurgles on seeing your face ought to tell you how happy she is to see your face again. Playing peek-a-boo can help your baby understand that no matter where mommy disappears to, she will always come back. This will help your baby deal with separation anxiety and be comfortable in new social situations.


Putting Her Down

You do not need to keep carrying your child with you all the time. If your baby starts crying as soon as you let her down, first place her on your bed, so you can lie down next to her. Use her toys to play with her and give her your full attention, as you gradually draw away. Once she is distracted and enjoying herself with her toys, put her and her toys in the crib and play with her again for a bit before gradually drawing away. This will help her realise that she can enjoy herself independently without being constantly attached to your hip.


Consoling Your Baby When She Cries

There are many conflicting theories about whether or not you should pick up your child when she is crying, or let her cry it out until she stops on her own. Many mothers are unable to bear sitting around while their child is crying, and after letting her cry a bit, they pick her up. This does not serve any purpose. You need to decide on your reaction when your baby cries and stick to it in order to prevent confusing your child and promoting erratic behaviour. Your baby is crying because she is anxious or scared and needs to be comforted.


Establish Daily Routines

Babies feel safe and confident when they know what is going to happen. Following a set routine daily helps her feel as if she is in control. This gives her the confidence to explore and interact with new people and places. Try to feed her, change her diapers or take her to the park at the same time every day, wherever possible.


Introduce Her to Other Toddlers
 

Try and ensure that your child is surrounded by other babies and toddlers. Children feel more at ease when they are amongst their own age group. Invite parents with children over often, so your child can start learning how to socialise at a young age. Encourage them to share their toys with each other, without insisting on it. Warn her to be gentle when touching other toddlers and their toys. Negotiate equal playing time with a disputed toy for both toddlers. If your child’s negative behaviour upsets the other toddler, point it out to your child without being confrontational about it. Say something innocuous such as, “Look at Raj. He’s crying. Seems like you hurt his feelings, sweetie. Why don’t you go say sorry and give him his truck back for a bit?” This will help your baby notice and care for other people’s feelings.


Baby Talk

Talk to your child as often as possible so your child develops a sense of speech at a young age. This is something that parents do instinctively. Haven’t you responded to your baby’s happy gurgling at seeing you with an “I know, baby. I love you too!” or to your baby’s sniffling coos with “Don’t worry, baby. I’ll have that smelly diaper off you in a second?” These patterns, where the baby talks and you reply, then you talk and the baby responds; is how your baby learns about the foundation of speech and interaction.

Babies are fascinated with faces, which is why you will see your baby smile at strangers with the same enthusiasm as they smile at you. But after seven months or so, stranger anxiety will creep in. Your babies will realise their emotional attachment to mommy and daddy and then even the normally welcome adults will be ignored in favour of mom and dad. Nurturing social relationships makes toddlers feel safe, confident and comfortable to explore the world and people around them. It will teach your child to develop strong loving relationships, positively process emotions and face challenges confidently.

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10 Comments
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Payal.4 years ago
I like baby talk and I keep talking to my child which makes a strong connection with her.
 
 
 
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Payal.4 years ago
I like baby talk and I keep talking to my child which makes a strong connection with her.
 
 
 
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arti.7 years ago
very good tips on improving your child's social skills by giving him confidence.
 
 
 
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Poonam.7 years ago
actually i was looking for such suggestions and its a perfect article. very good tips. thanks. id apply.
 
 
 
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kavitha.7 years ago
the tip about not letting others to hold the child against his wishes
is a good one...often we are in such situations where we have to choose between being polite to the guests or comforting the child.
 
 
 
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kat.7 years ago
this articles should be read by parents who don't have thier kids under control and guess what? some parents don't really make their kids socially trained w/c also make's it hard for parents when the time comes for pre-school... i would love to smack this article on my aunties face coz her child is a totally spoiled brat who's already damn 7 years old!
 
 
 
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thobekile.7 years ago
kids they should know how to play together so that they will learn more diffent skills
 
 
 
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