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  • 3 Ways To Make Sure Your Child Still Knows How To Make Friends

    Socializing is a crucial part of child development. How can parents hone it during the pandemic?
    by Kitty Elicay .
3 Ways To Make Sure Your Child Still Knows How To Make Friends
PHOTO BY iStock
  • As we approach our sixth month of community quarantine, parents cannot help but wonder whether the extended time indoors has a detrimental effect on our children’s wellbeing. If the pandemic did not happen, children would have been back in school by this time, learning and interacting with their classmates, and improving their relationships with their teachers and peers.

    Socializing is a crucial part of child development, but how can our kids hone their social skills if they only get to interact with the family at home? On our parenting community, Smart Parenting Village, one mom voiced out her concerns:

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    “I’m a first-time mom to a 20-month-old boy. I’m beginning to get anxious on the longevity of this COVID-19 pandemic. The more I think about it, the more I feel sad about the fact that my son cannot socialize with other kids.

    “I don’t want my baby to depend on children’s videos or movies or educational apps on the iPad. He is developing to be very friendly but with the situation now, I’m scared that he will lose that trait. I know a lot of children nowadays are also sad that they cannot be with their friends at school. How can I support my son’s social skills in our situation today? Any advice or tips, please?”

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    How the quarantine affects a child’s social development

    Don’t panic just yet if your toddler only gets to interact with the family at the moment. “Children — especially young children — are surprisingly resilient as long as they have at least one supportive adult in their life,” according to an article by The Atlantic. “Preschoolers and kids in the early elementary years need their parents more than they need their friends.”

    Ria Campos-Lopez, a child behavior specialist and certified baby sleep coach at Stratum Health Partners echoes this sentiment. “Let me assure you — for all those who have newborns — it’s only important to have you, the mom or dad and baby. Kayo na ang pinaka-importanteng social interaction nila. All they need at this age is to feel your love and support,” she says during SmartParenting.com.ph’s online event, How Po? titled “How To Protect Your Newborn,” which was held last June 30, 2020.

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    “The most important thing that all children need is a sense of safety,” Jack Shonkoff, a pediatrician who directs Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, tells The Atlantic. “The younger you are, the more that sense of safety comes from adults who care for you.”

    One of the ways you can make kids feel secured is to have a consistent routine. “Children need reasonable limits to feel safe, and having a routine is part of setting limit,” says Dr. Victoria Ang-Nolasco, a developmental pediatrician at Cardinal Santos Medical Center, to Smart Parenting. Routines also foster independence, and encourage flexibility and creativity in children.

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    3 ways to hone social skills at home

    To help ease the mom’s worries above, members of our Smart Parenting Village shared their thoughts on how to hone social development even while in the middle of the community quarantine.

    1. Play with your child.

    “It’s the least we can do but also the best we can do for them now,” shares one mom.

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    You can also involve him with house chores — “Aayain ko siya maglaba, magtupi, maglinis ng room, magluto, mag-garden sila ng daddy niya,” adds another mom with a 3-year-old son. “Na-e-enjoy na niya ‘yung mga ganung bagay.”

    At an early age, children learn to socialize when they speak to us and when we play with them, according to Curious Neuron founder Cindy Hovington, Ph.D. “Being around you is helping them socialize and how you model this is what will teach them how to be with others,” she says.

    2. Schedule video calls with other kids their age.

    One mom suggests doing video calls with friends who also have young kids. Think of it as a virtual play date and help your kids engage with their peers on the other end of the call. “Be the model of a sincere listener, giving your undivided attention. With practice, your child will learn the ‘serve and return’ of being a respectful conversation partner,” according to L.A. Parent.

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    Socializing doesn’t mean going out and meeting face-to-face, reminds one mom. “What’s important is that your child gets to master skills like communicating well — what to say, how to say, and when to say it — and that can be done with you or with his dad,” she says.

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    3. Take her outdoors (even if it’s just outside your home).

    A lot of moms also suggested spending time outdoors — even something as simple as driving around while inside the car can make a difference. “Para nakakakita siya ng ibang tao other than sa inyo na may kasama sa bahay,” shares one mom. “Best to do it early morning para pwede mo pa siya mailabas ng car kahit saglit at mapaarawan.”

    “We live in a condo and at least once a week we try to take her sa playground para man lang makasagap ng fresh air,” adds another mom.

    Lastly, trust in your child. “They are way more resilient and adaptive than we give them credit for,” says a mom. “Kids find things around the house that will keep them entertained for hours. Keep them happy and preoccupied and they will be fine.”

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    Looking for ways to entertain the kids at home? Click here for a list of ideas!

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