Forging Friendships Your child’s social circle is the second most important group surrounding him, next to his family. Establishing friendships at a young age is important because it helps a child’s development as social skills come into play. Depending on their age and exposure, children socialize in different ways. A child who is constantly around people may find it easier to warm up to other kids, regardless of age and number. This doesn’t necessarily mean the opposite for a child who is used to being alone. He may also be eager to socialize because he wants to be around children his age; or he may find some difficulty in being with his peers because he’s gotten quite used to being by himself.
By exposing your child to other kids early on, he learns about sharing, taking turns, caring and respecting others.
Playdates and Play Schools Children below two years old usually start forming their social circles through playdates organized by their parents. And more often than not, they’re first introduced to other children of the same age from their parents’ social circles. “Initially, Benny mingled with his cousins; luckily, they were young too. Then I started exposing him to my friends’ babies for playgroups,” says mompreneur Denise Gonzales, of her three-year-old son. The good thing with this kind of setup is that the parents know each other, and can better manage several children playing at the same time. A child who isn’t as sociable when it comes to interacting with other kids he just met can easily adjust and be more comfortable when he can see that his parents know the other people in the room.
Some parents put their children in preschools or daycare centers to expose them to a bigger circle and a different setup. “I put Ananda in school even before she turned two years old! I didn’t want her getting bored at home—I wanted her to have time with other kids. When we moved to Australia, I put her in daycare three times a week to get her used to being around other people,” says Erica Paredes, a beauty editor, entrepreneur, and mom to Ananda, 6.
Some children, even at a very young age, tend to be more sociable than others. They seem to be more open to people, even those they just met. “Zizi was very sociable. She was never afraid of people. In fact, she loves being around a large group of people,” says mompreneur Tina Afable-Narciso of her three-four-old daughter.
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