Every parent has to make decisions eventually about socializing their children. Play dates, slumber parties, volunteering, birthday parties, schooling, church, holidays, hobbies, and sports can all play a role in socializing. My children are home schooled, so I get a lot of questions about socializing my children. The truth is that I don’t do anything out of the ordinary. Here are some tips to bring out your social butterfly. Keep in mind that all kids follow their own rates of development, and some kids are naturally introverted. There’s nothing wrong with that. They will have friends, just like the next kid. They likely just enjoy one-on-one play over group play.
- Talk to your child. Having conversations with your kids (and talking at them before they can talk) teaches them how to have conversations with other people.
- Read to your child. Reading increases vocabulary and having them read aloud allows them to practice pronunciation.
- Set up play dates for your child with kids around the same age. They don’t have to be elaborate, catered events. Just get together with a mom you know (and like) who has a kid roundabout the same age as yours. Call it quits after an hour. The kids will be worn out by then, and they’ll be eager to have another play date soon.
- Go to the park. There are usually other children and moms at the playground. Your kids will have a good time, and you might just make a friend while you’re at it.
- Take advantage of playgroups. Many churches and libraries offer playgroups, usually arranged by age. Many offer learning activities. There are also classes available at other locale for a fee. Taking these classes for fun and socialization is a great idea.
- Sign up for sports. Obviously, I’m talking at least four years old. If your kid is interested in a sport, signing up will keep them active, introduce them to other kids their age, and keep them out of your hair for a bit. Whoop! Don’t force sports on your kid if he or she isn’t interested, however.
- Role play with your child. Use dolls or stuffed animals to teach your kid how to interact with other people in different scenarios.
- Teach manners. This is important, so I’m going to say it again. TEACH MANNERS! There are so many rude people out there. Your child need not grow up to become one. My 17 month old daughter occasionally says “Thank you” or “You’re Welcome” unprompted. It’s never too early. Teaching kids manners means that they are better prepared to work with other people and to settle any differences diplomatically. Manners also start a nice discussion about empathy.
- Let your child be a part of your every day life. Sounds simple enough. Let your child participate in a conversation with the cashier, mail carrier, or relative on the telephone.
All in all, I wouldn’t get too hung up on socializing unless your child is clearly struggling with it. You’re likely doing a fantastic job, momma! Keep it up. :)