Many parents cringe at the thought of getting their toddlers to socialize. After all, one of their favourite words is “ No!”
If toddlers are in a social situation where they are unfamiliar with the people, they have a definite social space surrounding themselves and their parent or caregiver; they are in fact glued to their parent’s hip or leg! Don’t think for a minute that you are going to be allowed in! Saying hello to the little one may result in a look that makes you take a step back.
Children begin showing interest in their peers around the age of two years. Younger toddlers tend to engage mostly in parallel play, where they play next to each other without much interaction. Even if they want to interact with another child, at this age children lack the social skills to do so.
Try to create opportunities to help your children learn to interact with their peers and acknowledge adults. This is a skill that children have to learn with a lot of prompting and practice.
The absolute best way to teach this skill to your toddler is to model it yourself. Use a free community outing like Rhymes that Bind as an opportunity to show your toddler how to interact with others; you can greet someone you don’t even know! Parent and child classes give your toddler an opportunity to socialize with same age peers and others from 0-3 years, as well as to become comfortable with new adults.
Rhymes is a perfect place for this as we are very welcoming, and there are ten weeks in every session. Children flourish with routine and knowledge that this is a safe and fun place to be with their parent or caregiver. Once you have come to Rhymes a couple of times, you and your children will recognize the facilitators and some of the other families.
You can make a little game of socializing. Tell your toddler that the two of you are going to greet, say, ten people today, then briefly talk about each person you have greeted and count them.
At Rhymes that Bind, the songs are interactive, and after several weeks your toddler will be comfortable enough to get up and move around with the other children. You will soon notice your toddler coming into a Rhymes program like it is their program. You will see your little one recognize the facilitators—or another little person—greet them, and sit down, leaving you on your own!
See you at Rhymes that Bind!
For more about Rhymes that Bind or to find a program near you in Edmonton, check the Centre for Family Literacy website.