Learning new things and adopting unique skills are some of the most challenging aspects of children’s developmental journey. While a smooth developmental journey is every parent’s dream, many children face difficulty in one or the other areas—and it’s completely natural. Unless a child is facing serious developmental delays, most children will achieve these milestones around the same age with little variations in weeks or months.

If you assess a child’s social skills on the map, here’s how the growth progresses.

By the age of one: Children are able to smile and understand fundamental cues—yes and no. At this age, children learn to differentiate between familiar and unfamiliar faces and therefore display different social skills with each.

By the age of two: If you show their own picture to them, they’ll be able to recognize it as their own. At this point, children also become aware of their own identity as well as the identity of others. They can play with toys and initiate different plays while being able to mimic adult behaviors.

By the age of three: These are some of the toughest years in terms of social skill development. Between the age of two and three, children start to understand the concept of personal space and belongings, which makes it harder for them to share with others. While they want to play with other children, defending personal possessions becomes a top priority, making it difficult for parents to set-up friendly and sociable playdates.

If your child is currently at this age, you could definitely do with some help in the area. Here are 3 things you can do to advance social development in children.

Empathy through Action

As soon as children learn to imitate adults’ behavior, their education begins. Teaching empathy to children comes through your actions as a parent. If you’re always screaming and shouting around the child, that’s what they’ll learn. If you’re using more affirmative approaches to conflict resolution, children will do the same.

Since empathy is one of the key characteristics of interpersonal relationships, teaching it to children can do wonders for their social skills.

Support during Play

Your child hasn’t learned everything yet so when playing with peers or other adults, they may feel overwhelmed at some point—and not know how to behave. Children often resolve to physical confrontation when they don’t know what to do and your support at this point is critical.

Asking simple questions like, “Is it okay if Mary plays with you?” or reaffirmations such as, “Don’t worry, she’ll give it back to you in a minute!” can help children process through their thoughts without resorting to a tantrum.

Let the Child Decide

Instead of forcing turns or asking your child to share when they don’t want to, let them take ownership of the play. Help them understand why they need to share and how, if they share their toys, they can play with other toys in the meanwhile.

Children are open to such suggestions but need time to learn and realize their importance. If you force them to share a toy when they don’t want to, they’ll become more possessive and less open to letting go of it in the future.

Learning with Montessori School of San Marcos

Children don’t learn these behaviors and skills at home only; daycare centers and preschools also play a crucial role in their development. The programs at Montessori School of San Marcos are designed to help toddlers and preschoolers learn social, cognitive and intellectual skills in an innovative and enriching environment.

We’re based in San Marcos, CA and parents around the areas can get in touch with us here for more information.