Kids love the company of other kids. Bonding with other kids is fun and also extremely important for the overall development of the child. When the child bonds with his peers, they learn important social and emotional skills like- patience, sharing, confidence and problem solving skills. Mixing with friends also gives a much needed boost to their self esteem and moral support.
Making friends is a developmental milestone and is equally important as learning to read and write. The skill of making friends is one that they will be using for their entire lives.
Every kid is unique
Every kid is unique. While some are outgoing and extrovert by nature, some are introvert and shy and like to spend their time in quite, doing solitary activities like reading and drawing. Such kids have a tough time mixing with their peers as childhood games like role playing, sharing toys and playing in a group aren’t their natural forte.
The parents should observe their child’s behaviour in a group setting. If they observe that their child is little shy and takes time in mingling with other kids, they shouldn’t fret. Shyness is a trait that the kids are born with and parents need to be aware of their child’s comfort level and social setting.
Parents are a child’s ultimate care giver and they need to be in sync with the child’s temperament which won’t turn their kid into a social butterfly but will give them confidence and help them make at least one or two quality friend.
Importance of play dates-
Play dates are an excellent tool in helping a kid bond with his peer and hone their social skills. It teaches them to work with a set of rules, especially when his friends are there.
Here are a few guidelines for the parents which will help to reduce their shy child’s anxiety-
- It’s not necessary to share all their toys. They can choose which toys they want to share with their peers coming over.
- If possible take out a new set of play dough or colours as they belong to no one and your child will share it without much fuss.
- Choose the games with your child in advance. This will help them stay in control and aware of what’s happening.
- When the child refuses to share, try and convince them by reminding about the discussion you both had about sharing toys and ensuring the guests have a good time.
- Don’t become a helicopter parent and don’t ignore the kids also. Keep an eye on them without trying to control the play date. The kids will learn to adapt to such social settings. The idea is to give them exposure in a supporting and warm way.
Along with play dates, here are a few more tips that will help the parents adopt a balanced approach and help their kids bond with their peers-
- Positive role modelling- kids are excellent observers. What they see their parents doing, the same habits gets ingrained in them. Social skills are basically connecting to the other person. Teaching them to be kind and helpful to others will help them to make friends easily. Parents can set up an example and be a positive role model for their kids by being polite and caring towards everyone around them.
- Love them- Children derive their self worth by the way their parents love them. Loving a child unconditionally will help them develop a positive self image and have more confidence, which are two requisites for bonding with others and being open to new people and surroundings.
- Appreciate them- Children love to get appreciated, especially if it comes from their parents. A parent plays crucial role in helping the child develop a positive self image. However small the achievement maybe- like saying hi to kids in the park, parents should appreciate. It will motivate the child and give their confidence a boost.
- Avoid comparison- most of the parents, tend to compare the developmental milestone of their kids. While it is natural, the truth is that every kid has their own learning loop and is born with a unique set of strengths and weakness.
- Dress normal- The last thing a shy child needs is to get extra attention. Shy kids aren’t that comfortable with being in the spotlight. Try and dress him/her like their peers, which will help them blend in among others.
Social skills & School
The success of teachers and administrators in helping students develop social competence depends on their ability to (a) develop a school-wide culture of social competence, (b) infuse the curriculum with situation-specific social skills lessons that target key behaviours, and (c) match the level and intensity of instruction to students’ social skills deficits (Gresham, 1998; Sugai& Lewis, in press).
Schools aren’t only meant for learning reading and writing. It is the place where kids interacts with other kids and learn social skills.
Social skills are one of the important domain areas of development and at Sesame Street Preschools we ensure to create opportunities for children to interact with each other in small and large groups like during expression or indoor choice block or circle time respectively. Our ECA certifiededucators are well trained to work with a diverse group of students and keep a close eye on the group dynamics and social skill of every child. Special attention is given to children who are aloof and shy and it is made sure that they are not bullied or ridiculed by other “popular” kids.
The educators essentially work like a talent scout and analyse each kid’s strengths as well as weakness especially for the kids who are socially awkward. They motivate the child by appreciating their strengths in front of other kids. This helps them get much needed confidence and makes other kids more accepting towards them.They identify different learning needs in kids and make them work together in cooperative exercises which ensure kids learn from each other and it also creates a sense of belonging among them.
The ECE certified teachers work in close unison with the child’s parent and siblings. Together they can teach the child about simple yet necessary traits like greeting, sharing and complementing other kids as this will help the kids bond together, be more open to diversity, give them a sense of community and build a positive self image.
Social skills are an accurate indicator of a child’s emotional well being. If they are good at it, they make friends and are happy. If they aren’t, they won’t have enough friends and going to school can be a lonely experience.