Making friends, especially if you are a toddler, is not always easy... some children are keen to have 'best friends', others go around in packs and some are simply not interested at all. When you ask who they played with a nursery and they say 'no one' it can be heart-breaking. But, we have to remember that some children are emotionally 'advanced' and understand the concept of having a friend; whereas others are more interested in playing along side another child with no interaction at all.
If your child is nervous of making friends or you want to gently encourage them to make some new friends, here are a few ideas for encouraging and guiding them. Friendship is an important part of all our lives and the importance placed on making friends in childhood is demonstrated by the fact that 'Forming Relationships' is part of the EYFS and is a focus of Personal, Social and Emotional Development.
Here are some tips on how you can help children make friends:
It's not always easy to make friends, especially if you are a toddler! Some children find it very easy to make attachments and their affections seem to be reciprocated. However, for many who are ready to make friends, it seems that it's not as easy.
It could be because they are just not mentally ready to develop friendships. Toddlers are concerned primarily with themselves, and so the idea of a friend that you share with and be nice to is a bit difficult for some to understand. Even if your child is ready, the other child may not be!
Here are some tips on how you can help:
Having friends and spending time with family is important for a child's development, not just because its fun, but because it's a great way for them to learn more from different people who do things in different ways. Grandad knows all about birds and nature, Granny is great at cooking, Uncle Joe is funny and makes us camps, Aunty Caroline is brilliant at horse riding and lets us try. When children and toddlers are with other people, they watch and learn just as much as when they are with you and its good for them to experience other homes and families.
Try and find out what special skills or interests family members have; especially older generations. Encourage them to teach your children or just spend time with them telling them stories about how thinkgs used to be! It's so valuable to learn about different cultures and people that spending time with our families can be interesting and beneficial for you all.
Similar Aged Children
When they are with other children the same age existing skills can be developed or new things discovered. They communicate, and understand and negotiate. They may squabble but try to find a solution and come to a decision. Try not to interfere and leave them to work out their problems. Obviously if they start fighting, then intervene!
When they are with older children, they may be nurtured or guided by them and can learn about new things and games. Older children can be very caring towards younger ones and can be great teachers. The younger children see this and copy. Older children can also be great academic teachers. See the 5 year old teaching a younger 3 year old how to hold a pencil and do a "loop-de-doop" in order to learn and write an "o".
Encouraging siblings to teach and help each other:
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