Kim Gray

The What, the Why and the How of Planning Social Interaction for Kids

Social interactions are at the heart of healthy, all-round development of children. They play a vital role in helping the kids form an identity, a sense of “self”, in terms of the expectations others have of them. Social interactions are also the breeding grounds for communication and social skills, as well as motor and cognitive skills.

* What does social interaction mean for young children

For the first couple of years, parents and the immediate family are the only people with whom a child interacts. This is both desirable and beneficial. However, after a certain age parents should introduce other people, ideally kids of the same age, to their children. The aim is to lay the groundwork for the child to start recognizing the desires and feelings of other children, to see things from the perspective of other children, and to learn to compromise. In the lack of appropriate social interactions, toddlers often grow to become selfish, self-centered, and less equipped to function in social settings.

After crossing the two-year landmark, children start benefiting from social interactions. The good news is, around this time, simple group activities such as participating in children’s playgroups is all the social interaction they need. As they grow older and start school, most become able enough to pick their own playmates and conduct their own social interactions.

* Why it is important for parents to facilitate social interactions

Research confirms that kids who develop social skills early in childhood grow to have higher confidence, stronger self-esteem, and greater willingness to participate in things happening around. They wade through their pre-teen and teen years with relative ease (because of their ability to make friends and to “be accepted” easily), and higher academic success. As young adults and later, fully-functioning adults with their own families, these kids are more healthy (yes social interactions can actively boost physical health in adults and seniors!), happy, and fulfilled.

Even if you do not want to think so far into the future, you will be able to find several compelling reasons to promote social interactions between your child and other children of the same age. For instance, early development of social skills prepares your child to understand the need and master the art of sharing, negotiating, cooperating, helping, finding help and so on. This will be beneficial both at home (with siblings) and at school (with school mates).

* How you can source fruitful social interactions for your children

One of the easiest things you can do to help your child interact more with other children of their age is to accompany them to play-dates and children’s playgroups. A children’s playgroup is better of the two options because it provides interactions with a larger number of children and parents. Be sure to choose such a children’s playgroup that allows an adult to be present, and you won’t have to worry about your child’s safety or security as well.
Children Playing In The Room
As your child interacts with peers, stands or sits together, laughs, plays, shares toys and has fun at the children’s playgroup, social bonds are built. They perceive the fun in playing alone versus playing together. They learn how to behave properly with others so that friendships are made and kept. They develop all social skills ranging from communicating clearly, effectively, and respectfully, or being considerate of others and cooperating to being assertive about their needs or desires when needed and controlling the same when not needed.

But that’s not all. Attending children’s playgroups also helps in the physical development of your child, by stimulating both the body and the mind. The benefits are just numerous!