Life is all about social skills- the ability to interact, make friends, be empathetic and effectively handle conflicting emotions. It is imperative to start social skills activities for kids early, right from toddlerhood.
Social development of any toddler is very intrinsically associated with the physical, mental and academic development of the little one in the future. Without basic social skills, a toddler cannot be expected to keep his/her emotions in control or comprehend and understand other’s emotions. Social skills also teach a child to empathize with others; interact with others respectfully and react to different social situations in an acceptable manner.
As a parent, you must not think that your child lacks social skills if he or she seems to be difficult. These skills are definitely present in each and every child; however these have to be discovered and require continuous honing as the child grows older. It is essential that you take up the responsibility to teach social skills to your child. Make effective utilization of various interesting social skills activities for toddlers which have magical results in inculcating the same.
What Are Social Activities For Toddlers?
As your toddler grows old, he/she will have to learn to understand how the social environment around him/her works. A child also needs to learn to adapt to his environment to be happy and successful in life. You can assist your toddler on this journey to comprehend the social world around him/her through the practice of social skills at home. A very good way to do so would be to engage your toddler in different types of social activities.
These activities are specifically designed keeping in mind the toddler’s overall developmental needs. By practicing these social activities, the toddlers get a chance to recognize the value of most important social skills like communicating, listening, sharing, cooperating, using emotions and manners in various social situations.
Instead of making the toddlers wary of acquiring social skills, the activities give them the opportunity to open up and learn social skills in a fun and an encouraging way.
Why Are Social Skills Activities For Toddlers Important?
The importance of social skills activities for preschoolers and toddlers cannot be underestimated because these activities give you the chance to understand the social as well as emotional needs of your child better. They open up avenues to work on your child’s ability to develop positive relationships with not only you but also other people. Along with that, developmental delays and other challenges experienced by your toddler will be tackled effectively through the social skill activities.
With the engagement of your toddler in social skills activities, you will be able to teach your child social skills on a daily basis thereby helping your child create lasting friendships and relationships. You will also be able to work on his/her physical and mental development; and build a brighter and happier future. Remember basic social skills are necessary for survival and adjusting to the wide world outside the safe boundaries of the home.
12 Social Skills Activities For Toddlers
Any toddler’s first encounter with social skills will begin when he/she starts with basic communication and recognizing other people apart from his/her parents. It will move on to the toddlers forming associations with others sharing his/her interests and understanding emotions of not only himself/herself but others around him/her. Eventually, it will keep enhancing with the toddler voluntary participating in group activities, cooperating with others and also becoming more independent.
However, for all this to go about smoothly and without any hassle, you can opt for the following 12 social skills activities for toddlersto give your toddler the correct direction on the path of social skills development.
1. Reading story books with illustrations
Every day (probably before sleeping), you can sit down with your toddler and read different kinds of story books which have illustrations. Keep your child involved in the story by asking him/her relevant questions.
If there is a challenging situation in the story, then you can ask your child as to how he/she would react to it. The illustrations can be used to make him/her understand the emotions at play in the story.
This is perhaps the easiest way to practice social skills at home for toddlers as it keeps them engaged. They also learn to express themselves and practice listening to others, acknowledging other’s emotions and so on.
2. Use placards to help identify emotions
To make your child understand emotions, the first step is to help them identify the same. You can create placards or use stickers of different emotions like sadness, joy, kindness, anger, tiredness, fear etc. and display these in front of your child. You can ask your kid to identify different emotions; then label these and even ask him/her about how he/she feels about each and every emotion. On the basis of the responses, you will be able to teach your child to recognize emotions as well as control them in an appropriate manner.
This way you will get to teach one of the most important social skills to your toddler regarding acknowledging emotions and not letting emotions control him/her. However, to make your child understand better you need to be as expressive as possible with your facial expressions and communication.
3. Watching appropriate cartoons, shows and movies
Since technologies like TV and mobile phones are very much a part and parcel of our lives, using these to our advantage would be a wise move. Don’t just use the television as a baby-sitter!
So whenever you put on the TV or make your toddler watch anything on your phone make sure it is appropriate and helps teach lessons of social skills. For this you will have to keep asking questions to your child regarding the shows, cartoons and movies he/she is watching. You will also need to encourage them to see the positive side of the characters in the story.
4. Activity of improvising short stories
One of the ideal social skills activities for toddlers is promoting the improvisation of short stories with the help of flashcards. You can create flashcards on a range of topics which are essential for your child’s development and take turns in improvising stories based on those topics.
Children not only practice listening, but also learn to follow directions. Such social activities encourage the most critical social skill – imagination. Keep the child’s imagination flowing freely as he makes up the narrative and do not look for logic. Keep on picking the cards and taking turns until all of them are used and the child reaches a happy and satisfying conclusion.
5. Play ‘would you rather’ with your toddler
This social activity has been specifically devised to provide the toddlers with an opportunity to make independent decisions on their own by choosing out of the two options given to them. Along with that, their imagination skills are also enhanced when they are given the chance to give you the two out-of-the-box options to choose from.
6. Playing ‘red light, green light’ or ‘simon says’
At a young age, developing attention skills, self-control and focus in your toddler and preschooler is important. Therefore, playing games like ‘red light, green light’ or ‘simon says’ present a good opportunity to learn while playing.
Games such as ‘red light green light teach a child to regulate his or her behavior and self-control (as in to control their actions). ‘Simon says is a classic game that teach a toddler to follow instructions. They need to listen, stop and act according to the instructions.
7. Utilize pretend play to your advantage
Does your child enjoy acting out what you or the other family members do on a daily basis? Like perhaps enacting a dinner scene. Indulge in make-believe and dramatic scenarios that are created with the help of props like the toys of your toddler.
You can role play with your child by enacting certain situations by the whole family can help hone the social skills of your kids very conveniently. Toddlers are better able to regulate their emotions and even work on problem-solving skills with the assistance of dramatic role plays.
Try a game of cops and lay the foundation with a narrative. With the right start, you will notice your child developing imaginative scenarios. This process enable a toddler to work on their social-emotional skills as well.
8. Organize a scavenger hunt
With the help of other family members, you can devise a competitive yet learning scavenger hunt for your preschooler and his friends. The scavenger hunt with interesting clues to solve to reach the final treasure would help a socially awkward child open up to his/her friends; cooperate; be expressive and solve puzzles intelligibly.
9. The eye contact activities
Eye contact is perhaps one of the basic social skills that go a long way in teaching toddlers to pay attention to others and show respect to others in the right manner. You can start with a staring contest with your toddler and if they are competitive, you will be surprised for yourself.
Encourage your child to look into your eyes while talking. One of the games that I play with my 3 year old is to ask what she sees in my eyes. The response varies from her naming herself and other objects in the room. This has made her ask other to look at her while talking and she does the same.
10. Encourage drawing and painting activities
You can dedicate a time during the day to engage your child to draw and paint things associated with himself/herself. You can make your child draw or paint something like maybe a happy moment; emotions he/she is feeling; things he/she wishes he/she had etc. This way the child will express himself/herself allowing you space to discuss the deeper issues he/she is facing.
11. Playing sports
Social skills activities for preschoolers list is incomplete without using sports. Not only sports help your child develop an active lifestyle but teaches a lot more about life.
Sports for your child must include sports like basketball, football etc. which can be played by the toddler with his/her friends or family members. Team sports help children understand the importance of fair-play – laying the foundation of following rules. They also learn sportsmanship, team play and importance of working together which are essential social skills.
Sports also help a child develop a control on his emotions – like how to deal with losing a game. They also learn to be competitive and manage their emotions and behavior.
With the right combination of the above social skills activities for toddlers and preschoolers at home, you can contribute to the holistic development of your child into a better, confident and positive human being who knows his/her way around the world. So keep teaching, experimenting and learning!