Babies are hard wired to be social even before birth. While in the womb, your baby learns to distinguish your voice from all other voices. Babies learn to connect to other people by watching their mothers. Essentially, a mom is a baby’s first playmate and it is from her that a baby learns to enjoy the company of others. Here is a brief rundown of what mothers can do at different ages to aid in their baby’s social development.
Normal ways of showing affection such as hugging, kissing, smiling at your baby and speaking lovingly to babies aid immensely in social development.
The first two months
At this stage a baby enjoys affection hence likes being talked to lovingly, touched and smiled to. Babies can also make faces and mimic facial expressions. Respond by making funny faces that babies can easily make such as sticking your tongue out. Also maintain eye contact with your baby.
Promptly respond to all your babies needs by comforting them immediately and feeding them when hungry. This makes babies trust that their mothers can interpret and respond to their needs.
Three to six months
At this age your baby can gurgle and smile. A baby can now differentiate basic human emotions such as anger, fear, surprise and happiness by simply observing facial expressions. Babies also start making sense of language and you’ll notice that they stare adoringly at you especially at your mouth and eyes. Aid in your baby’s language development by communicating non-verbally; stare and smile at your baby, also gurgle and bubble back. By doing this, you are teaching your baby the foundation of dialogue which is a person talking and another person responding.
This is the right time to horn your babies’ social skills by organizing play dates and committing to play groups. This gives your baby the opportunity to interact with peers and learn to play with different toys. Mommy-and-me classes also come in handy in exposing and getting a child interested in a plethora of activities such as music, gymnastics and arts.
Seven to twelve months
Many babies are excited at the concept of mobility as they can now move independently. Most babies are now too busy exploring alone and have very little interest in peer relations. Avail toys to help children at this stage to understand their surrounding more.At around twelve months, babies begin grasping the idea that they are an extension of their parents rather than a separate entity. This realization makes babies clingy and builds separation anxiety and stranger anxiety. You can minimize these anxieties by:
- In case you are in a new surrounding, let your child sit at your feet or sit on your lap until they crawl or walk away when they are comfortable enough and feel safe.
- To make strangers less threatening to your child, advice them to stoop to your babies level rather than towering above the baby.
- Play peek-a-boo with your child often. This imparts the idea that though mummy or daddy may ‘disappear’ for a while, they will always come back.
Thirteen to twenty three months
All the skills you have been imparting in your child will start manifesting at this stage. A child is now capable of making new friends and communicating with others. At this stage, ensure your child is around good influences because they start imitating what people around them do.At this age children want to assert their independence. Help your child do this the right way by allowing them to eat alone and walk without holding your hand when it is safe.
At this age you will notice that your child has a distinct temperament. Your child can either be outgoing or shy and reserved. Avoid forcing your child into uncomfortable situations and instead allow your child to adjust socially at their own pace.
Babies are hard wired to be social even before birth. While in the womb, your baby learns to distinguish your voice from all other voices
Twenty four to thirty six months
Between 2 to 3 years children are fiercely independent and a bit self centered. You will notice that they are very possessive and rarely want to share toys or friends with others. This is because their line of thought is that everyone feels the same way they are feeling. This is the time to guide your child on how to share, how to behave politely, taking turns and respecting others. As they grow, they will follow the guidance you give them. At this stage, involve your child in conversations with adults; tickle them frequently to help them distinguish between serious conversations and playful interaction.
Normal ways of showing affection such as hugging, kissing, smiling at your baby and speaking lovingly to babies will ultimately aid in social development. Mothers who take the prerogative to assist their children in social development lay the groundwork for a rich social life as their children become older.
Between 2 to 3 years children are fiercely independent and a bit self centered