Parenting a toddler? You've probably spent hours on the playground (and that may be an understatement!). You may not have thought about it, but the unstructured play that happens on the playground can have a huge impact on a child's growth and development—particularly when it comes to socialization. Luckily, there are ways to help encourage these skills. Here are five tips on how to teach your little one to make friends on the playground.
Children pick up on their parent's behaviors—good and bad. Offer support for your child—and let her know that she can count on you—but give her the space to explore friendships on her own. If there's a conflict with another child, try to help her find solutions, but don't solve it for her.
Sometimes massive crowds can be overwhelming—in particular for the little ones. Instead, consider organizing with a group of three or four others to meet at the playground. In this type of social situation you can structure your child's play, intervene when necessary, and guide the kiddos in a group. If your child's an introvert, or not ready to play, don't pressure her to participate—let her stay put and observe.
Before heading out to the playground, you need to teach your little one how to relate well with others. Your child needs to understand the importance of sharing and taking turns. On the playground all the equipment is shared—so this is particularly important!
Talk to your child about personal space. She needs to know that it's not appropriate to interrupt others. Instead, she should look for someone who's open and ready to play!
Also, go over the importance of using kind and honest words—and model this behavior. When you see your little one demonstrating these skills, point it out and encourage it. You'll be amazed at how much your kiddo picks up on.
Kids aren't born knowing how to ask others to play with them. Teach your child step by step how to approach others and invite them to play. Talk about dealing with rejection, especially when others say no because they don't want to play. There could be some hurt feelings involved—and that's totally normal. Role playing is a great way to deal with some of these interactions—set up a scenario with your child and explain how she can work through the various outcomes.
Get to know the parents of your child's friends and you'll have a built in playground play-date, every day of the week! You may be wondering how to get to know the parents of your child’s friends. If your child's already in school, make an effort to interact with other parents during class functions and birthday parties. Invite them out to play and you may find yourself make friends too!
Socialization is an essential skill for your kiddo as it affects how she relates with others in the future. Every interaction is the opportunity to learn—especially on the playground.
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