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How To Navigate the World Through The Eyes of a Toddler

Kids In Sports

By Kids In Sports

Posted December 9, 2017

The world can be an intimidating place for anyone, let alone through the eyes of a toddler. It is important as parents to be supportive and help children gain social skills at an early point in their development. There are 3 main factors that children rely on when it comes to developing their social skills at a young age and parents should be observant of these.

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Seeing

Seeing involves picking up on social cues and noticing context. Kids will observe the atmosphere they are in – is it casual or formal? They will observe the relationships between other children - are they friends or strangers? Different situations call for different kinds of behavior from your child so really try to put yourself in their shoes to help them become comfortable socially. If a child feels lost regarding how to act a new situation, answering the question, "What is everyone else doing?" may provide some hints about what to do. Monitoring others' reactions can also help children change course if things aren't going well. For instance, noticing, "She seems bored with this game" could prompt a child to suggest a new game or to ask the friend what she would like to do. Children who have trouble with social seeing often unwittingly annoy others. They may do things that are inappropriate for the context, such as being silly when everyone else is being serious. Worse, they may persist in doing annoying or upsetting things because they overlook the signs that others want them to stop (e.g., glaring at them, avoiding eye contact, moving away).

Thinking

Thinking in social settings involves interpreting other children's behavior to understand why they're doing what they're doing. Are they being playful or aggressive? Was it deliberate or accidental? It also means being able to predict others' likely responses and to come up with effective strategies for influencing peers in desired ways. Research on social cognition  tells us that children who struggle socially often misinterpret others' intentions. For instance, aggressive children are more likely than other children to view a peers' behavior as stemming from deliberate meanness. They're also less able to come up with constructive strategies for resolving social difficulties.

Doing

Doing in a social context means interacting with peers in positive ways. Some children know what they ought to do, but have trouble actually doing it. For instance, they may want to join a conversation, but they feel anxious and freeze up, so they say nothing. Other children tend to act impulsively, blurting out inappropriate comments.