Toddlers brains. Ever wonder what goes on in a toddlers little head. There are milestones to be met – sitting up, saying the first word, throwing & kicking and potty training even. And then, there are bigger milestones to be met – sharing toys, sharing space, controlling emotions and making new friends. Now if that isn’t a tough life, what is?
They say, toddlers are typically happy playing alone till the age of 2. It’s after, when they start noticing and interacting with other children. While such parallel play has advantages of its own, there is nothing as special as making friends. It’s a whole new world out there and as a parent, here’s how you can help them unravel it.
- The power of play dates. It’s their first social situation in life, so keep it short and sweet. Pair kids of similar age and preferences to avoid tantrums. And schedule these first thing in the morning if you can, when they’re fed and fresh out of bed!
- I do, do, do; they understand. If you haven’t heard this enough, you are your child’s first teacher. So the last thing you should do is detach yourself from that play date. Let the nanny have some time off instead, while you’re sat chatting with mums over a cup of coffee.
- Get out and about. It’s easy to hand over that iPad to a screaming toddler and do it if you must, but take them to the park or library as often as you can too. It’s at places like these where crazy meets crazy, and all is well with the world again.
- Quick, hide the teddy. There are 2 reasons you might want to do that; cause a) they’re way too young to comprehend sharing (welcome, bad mood) and b) it pushes them out of their comfort zones. Whoever thought putting away a favorite toy when they have friends over is such a life lesson in itself?
- Pick your battles games wisely. Think singing, dancing, pretend play, bubbles, balls and balloons. Stick to activities that require playing together. As simple as that really.
- Teaching mode on. Toddler conflict is natural, but first friendships are the best when it comes to teaching empathy. ‘So he took away your toy and how does that make you feel?’ or ‘Did you ask her if you can go next?’ are sentences you might want to use often. Sooner than later, they’ll be tackling situations independently.
- And finally, when it comes to making their first meaningful relationships in life, your toddler needs tons of encouragement. And love. Ok, bribe even. My point here? Praise the Lord, but don’t forget to praise your kids too 😉