Do you want your child to be able to connect easily with other people? Do you want her to be able to make friends easily? If so, it’s important to start helping her develop her social skills at a very young age. As her parent, you will be your baby’s first playmate, and the first person that she establishes a strong bond with. With your help, your baby will soon begin to feel comfortable with others as well, and start enjoying their company just as much. This is the first stage in developing your baby’s social skills.
Children are Social from Birth
From the moment your child is born, her social skills will gradually start to mature. From day one, your baby is already learning to adapt to different situations and respond to the people around her. By the time your child is one, she will be focusing more on what she can do, such as grabbing objects and walking, as well as interacting with you.
While children at this age do generally enjoy seeing other people, they definitely still prefer having their parents as company. It won’t be until age two when your child starts enjoying play with other children, but like with any other skill, it will take time to learn how to socialise properly.
At first, she may not like sharing her toys, but soon enough she will learn how to empathise with other children and, by the age of three, she will be well on her way toward making actual friends.
How Does Socialisation Develop?
Newborns love to be touched, held, cooed to and smiled at, which are all the first actions that teach them how to be social. As early as the first month, you baby may begin experimenting with her expressions by making faces at you and mimicking your gestures. Play with this affinity, because it’s her first lesson in being sociable. By seven months, she will start to be interested in other babies, and maybe even mimic their noises they make, but she will be too preoccupied with her baby toys to actually play with the other baby.
Separation anxiety often peaks sometime between 10 and 18 months, where your baby will prefer your company to anyone else’s, and may actually show signs of distress when you’re not around. By the time she is close to two years old, however, this will go away as she starts to appreciate the company of other children. Between the ages of two and three, your child will start to understand the notion of love and trust, and will begin to show affection. While she may not be able to “put herself in other people’s shoes” just yet, she will start sharing better, and regarding playmates as friends.
Encouraging Your Baby’s Social Skills
While social skills come natural to humans, really strong social skills have to be nurtured and developed. Spend a lot of face-to-face time with your baby, especially within the first few months. Start inviting your friends and relatives over to visit with your baby so that she can get used to having other people around.
As your child grows, it’s important for you to continually give her affection, and put her in situations where she will have practice being around other people, such as in day care or playgroups. Eventually she will learn how to make and keep friends, which is the biggest step towards leading an active social life.