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.
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
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.