Helpful Ways to Improve Your Toddler’s Social Skills

I take my son to school skills class at Gymboree about twice a week to help improve his social skills. At least I hope that’s what it’s doing. It’s supposed to help prepare him for kindergarten. So far, I think it’s been working out well. It’s usually just him and me during the weekdays while my husband goes off to work. I do what I can to entertain him. I let him play at the park every day, but it didn’t seem to be enough. He was always afraid to be around other people or to leave my side.

Oli-Football-3.14-second

Tiniest little man there, but entered Oliver in what he loves – futbol (soccer)

Today I took my son to school and noticed a new little boy who screamed and yelled and just wouldn’t leave his mom. The teacher had to rip his little hands off of her leg. His screams were so heart breaking and you could see the pain in his mom’s eyes as she watched her little boy go through what looked like major trauma for him.

I tried to ease her pain by talking to her for a moment. She told me things that made me feel like I was talking to myself. She says she takes him to the park, but it’s not exactly helpful because all he wants to do at the park is play by himself. It made me think about the things I had gone through to help my son with his social dilemmas.

Here are 3 tips to helping your toddler improve their social skills:

1) Be Understanding

My husband always says, “he’s still young,” after I share my concern about my son’s lack of communication with other kids. Deep down (even though I continue to bug him about it), I know my son is still quite young and doesn’t really understand the meaning of friendship yet. When I watch what he does with other kids, he’ll hang around them and laugh when they laugh, but doesn’t really try to be any one kid’s friend. I’ll have to see what happens later on with this. For now, I’ll have to be understanding about the fact that he really is just too young.

2) Be Supportive

Every individual is different, even children. Just because a mom tells you their child is reading at the age of 3, it doesn’t mean yours has to start reading too. It’s important to help your child understand that he can be himself and do the things he loves to do without having to be pressured into doing something he dislikes, which may ultimately lead to that – dislike.

Being supportive will get your child to the comfort level he needs to move forward on his own, without feeling the unnecessary stress associated with “having to” associate with others he doesn’t feel comfortable associating himself with.

3) Be Creative

Gymboree-Blowing-Bubbles Gymboree-Playtime

 


If he loves to play with planes or cars, then create play time that involve those things. As a parent, your social skills can rub off on your child. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, find other play dates for your child. Perhaps another mom with a child who also likes planes or cars. There are activity centers like Gymboree, maybe a local group session for moms with young children, or other community social events.

Of course, it’s always best to trust your instinct when it comes to your child. Don’t hurry, worry, or compare yourself with others. Go at the pace you feel is comfortable for you and your little one. They eventually get to where they need to be. There are plenty of doctors and highly successful people who didn’t walk or talk until very late stages in their early age. Just ask around.

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Comments

  1. says

    I couldn’t agree more – always trust your instinct. And trust your child’s instinct, too… I can say for certain that if my little boy was screaming that way, I would have had a really hard time letting him be torn from me. When he’s ready, he’s ready :)

  2. says

    When my daughter was a toddler, she was yapping it up with anyone who would listen. We always had to try to not get her to talk to everyone, especially strangers.

  3. Shauna says

    What a great post… my kids go to Mother’s Day Out two days a week to engage with other kids. They also participate in sports and game days… It is great for them.

  4. says

    Having a toddler I find this very helpful. Thank you so much for sharing all these tips to be a better parent in raising a self reliant toddler who has confidence.

  5. says

    I absolutely agree about not comparing! Every child (And adult) is different, and it’s OK to be more introverted. Parents have the toughest job because you have to respect your child’s personality while still making sure they’re getting all the right opportunities and experiences – my hats off to you!!!

  6. says

    I love these things – it is so important to develop those social skills. It can be difficult for your child (and mine) to step out of the comfortable world they have created for themselves where they play alone. But it pays off when they develop friendships and learn how to be sociable. Great post.

  7. says

    These are great tips! After my son’s t-ball game ran a little long, he was DONE! Full on tantrum that we haven’t seen from him in a long, long time. I had to remind myself “he’s just four.” Great post!

  8. says

    Great tips! When I was a stay at home mom I took my kids to all kinds of classes and events at local kid’s museums as a way for them to meet more kids. They really enjoyed it!

  9. says

    Love this. My kids are the exact same way – I work from home and they’re young and don’t get out a lot to meet other kids. A little worried how they’re going to be when they’re school age.

  10. says

    Great information for parents. Two of my kids were extremely difficult as toddlers. Of course it was nothing compared to some of the issues that have come up since they have been teenagers :)

  11. says

    I was lucky enough where my daughter was incredibly outgoing as a toddler. Your 3 tips are great for not only parents but educators and daycare providers as well (Speaking as a former Early Childhood Educator).

  12. says

    This is such a great article. We know that developing social skills in children at an early age is so important. Many recent studies have proved that children who have developed their social skills perform better in school, are less likely to become bullies and more resilient to negative influences. Tools for Life is a program used in teaching these social skills in schools.

  13. says

    What a great list–two and three are a little easier then #1 because I think sometimes they DO understand they just don’t know how to show us what they feel inside.

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