Social Development in Children (Age: 1-3 years)


by Vaishali Sudan Sharma updated on May 12, 2015

How important is physical development in a growing child is well-understood but what about his social and emotional well-being? TCT gives you an insight into social development in toddlers (children below the age of 3 years).

When babies start walking, learn to talk or grow taller, it is for everyone to notice. However when they share things with others and make new friends, this is the aspect that often goes unnoticed. The emotional aspect of development relates to a child’s understanding and controlling their internal emotions while balancing external social elements of interaction with other people and family members.Social development in children 01

Allowing healthy emotional and social development in children results in:

  • Building new relationships
  • Self-regulating conduct and tackling conflicts
  • Learning patience and cooperation
  • Monitoring feelings

All of the above and more like these are the building blocks of healthy social-emotional development. Children can be taught these skills over time in a step by step manner like other skills. Before you go on to know how you can support your toddler’s social development in a healthier way, read what –Saakshi Kapoor, a practicing child psychologist, has to say about it.Social development in children 02

“Like everything else, social development in children is always a balance between nature and nurture. While some children are born with an innate tendency to engage with their social domain with ease, others benefit more from a stimulus provided by the care givers. As parents, our prerogative is to foremost recognize and accept the social nature of our children and then nurture them in accordance.

For toddlers, being social begins at home and they are usually extremely attuned with their environment. It is believed that if a parent is usually untrusting towards strangers, the child is likely to have a similar temperament. There is a difference between forcing social development and interaction and facilitating it. Regular and keen observation of your toddler can help in picking up cues about what kind of social being your child is.

Kapoor adds, “At this age, children are still learning emotions but even then, it is important as a parent to not be too quick to label your child’s feelings. What you might think of as anger might be something as simple as boredom. In terms of emotions, it is a good idea to let your child express it first and then go on to ask them what it was that they were feeling.”

Social development in children 03

Here are the three important blocks of social-emotional development:

1. Exploring objects with adults: 

By exploring toys and other objects around them, babies develop various skills. Let them explore and play, and offer only that much help where they don’t end up getting irritated.

  • If your toddler has just turned a year old and has started exploring objects then you can offer him your support. For this, you might position a toy near the baby’s reach so that he doesn’t have to roll over to grab it. In other instances, you can show joy when a baby discovers something.
  • For babies who are now a bit older and have started playing with toys like blocks and different shapes, you can offer support by guiding them to solve and complete the challenges on their own. For instance, if a baby is trying to drop blocks through different shaped holes, you can guide their hand over the shapes and let them complete the game on their own. This will encourage them to solve their problems on their own. Now, as your baby is trying to fix his blocks or other toys, show encouragement and appreciation. This will instill in him a feeling of patience and persistence.Social development in children 04

2. Interaction with other kids of their age:

Encourage your kid to make friends at an early stage. It is with practice that kids learn to share, show patience to take turns and peacefully resolve their conflicts.

  • Provide a variety of activities and a safe environment so that your kid can play comfortably with his friends. Include activities where kids don’t need to share anything such as arts (drawing, painting), music (everyone has a separate instrument), water or sand. This will limit the number of conflicts.
  • Help your toddler understand other’s feelings. For example: Did you tell Greg that he can’t play with the ball. Look, he looks so sad. Would you like it if he said the same thing to you?Social development in children 05

3. Emotional Skills:

As your toddler grows, he starts to identify a range of complex emotions such as jealousy, shame, and embarrassment. Help him to understand these emotions by describing them with specific words. The more words a child learns, the easier it becomes for him to express his feelings. For example: Are you feeling sad that you couldn’t go the playground today? OR Don’t feel jealous that Ted got a strawberry cupcake. It’s okay, you can take the chocolate one. 

  • Feelings can also be taught through play. You can narrate him a story using puppets and include typical emotions like anger and fear. You can encourage him to draw a smiling face when he is happy and sad face when he is feeling low.
  • There are kid’s picture books available in the market that talks about feelings. Use these books and ask your child to identify the emotions.
  • Besides the teaching techniques, allow your kid to display strong emotions in acceptable ways such as stomping feet, ripping paper, when he is extremely angry. This will help your little one to understand the healthy ways to express feelings.Social development in children 06

The post was originally published on World of Moms

Image source: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06

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