Preschoolers: Building Social Skills - Topic Overview
By age 3, most children benefit from some form of regular social
contact, such as nursery school or play groups. Playing with other children
even 1 day a week provides opportunities to practice and develop important
social, emotional, and language skills. Children learn to share, cooperate, and
negotiate as they interact with their peers.
Some children cry or cling when they are dropped off at a new day
care or preschool. Assure your child that you will return and that the setting
is fun and safe. If necessary, stay for a short while on the first few days,
where the child can see you. Avoid talking with, cuddling, or holding your
child for too long. If you show signs of nervousness and give the child a lot
of attention, it is likely to raise his or her anxiety level. Let your child
take the initiative in approaching others. Eventually, most children easily
adapt and become comfortable in the group. But realize it may take longer
for some children. And don't consider it a failure on your part or your child's part
if he or she needs more time to adjust. For more information about day care, see the topic Choosing Child Care.
Social skills are learned from repeated practice. Work with your
child to resolve problems with sharing, taking turns, or cooperating with
others. For example, if a child refuses to share a toy, try putting the toy in time-out
rather than a child.