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How To Help Your Child Make Friends

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Toddlers aren't always the most social creatures. Because they are just learning to navigate social situations, they may be shy. It is important, though, that these young people spend time with kids their age so they can learn and play together. If you're not sure how to help your toddler make friends, read on.

Set up play dates

Have you ever taken your toddler to the playground only to find that he or she ignores everyone and plays solo? This isn't uncommon. In fact, places that are full of kids can be overwhelming. Set up individual play dates with other toddlers for more one-on-one time. This way your little one can feel more comfortable interacting with someone - there's no audience and far fewer distractions. 

Offer activities

Toddlers do well when they have something to play with. Have your little one bring a fun toy to the park. As he or she is playing, another toddler might become interested and want to join. This is also a great way to begin lessons in sharing. If your toddler is at a playground, encourage him or her to try different equipment like the swing or running on the ramps. Being active is fun, and excitement and happiness will likely attract the attention of other toddlers who will want to play along.

parallel play, kids playing, friendshipParallel play can progress to group fun over time.

Encourage parallel play

In those moments where your child is at a very social location surrounded by other kids, he or she may engage in parallel play. This means the child is having fun by him or herself. Soon, though, your child will notice what others are doing. This is called parallel-aware play. Looking over at the boy with his fire truck naturally progresses to walking over to join in. Parents can point out what others are dong to quicken the process, but don't push your children to explore. They'll do so in their own time. 

Make easy friends

Parents can feel weird about approaching other parents at the park to ask about a play date. In fact, adults can be just as awkward as toddlers sometimes! That's why it's important to look for easy friendships, too. Siblings can be great friends, for example. Or, if you have adult pals who have kids around your children's ages, these may be perfect opportunities for your toddler to try his or her hand at making friends. Cousins and neighbors are also great options as they are around for family events and live nearby. A friend is a friend, no matter how your kid met them. Plus, it can be easier on you to have your siblings over and let your nieces and nephews enjoy time with your kids than it is to make entirely new grown-up friends.

Don't fret

There is no set timeline for how many friends a toddler should have with each month of advancing age. The very definition of friends for someone so young is quite different than for older kids. Parents shouldn't worry too much - when these youngins begin school they will quickly gain pals as they navigate learning together.

 
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