Socialization begins at birth and continues through life. Early practice in getting together with other babies and children will help your child be successful socially and able to fit into all kinds of social groups as they get older.
Your child will learn independence through play and practical activities. Give your child opportunities to learn through interacting and playing with other children of their own age, and time to play and work on their own. These activities will allow them to create their own free expression and understanding of their world and the people in it. They will learn how to take turns, share and participate. These are all skills needed to be successful socially. (excerpt from ‘Teaching Parents How To Teach’)
Being the parent of a young child gives you the opportunity to seek out exciting and varied places for your child to play and interact with their peers. During free play children learn about socially acceptable behaviour, role-playing experiences, building vocabulary, and discovering how they fit into the world.
It is during socialization that your child develops their individuality. They discover their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour patterns based on their experiences with others.
Give your child opportunities to regularly play with children of their own age, sometimes just one other child, and sometimes in group situations. Guide them through acceptable behaviour, and then stand back and let them experience imaginative play, problem solving and the discovery of others.
Invite a couple of other parents and their children to your home, or arrange to meet up at a local playground, park, beach, etc. Use some of the time to chat with the other adults, but also use the time to observe and interact with the children as they discover the toys and each other.
With young babies/children spread a blanket on the ground and put some age appropriate toys out (building blocks, squishy soft toys, noise makers – shakers, bells,) watch how your child explores the toys and also observes the other babies/children. At this stage the children play individually and are less likely to share. This is OK it’s the developmental stage they are in.
As your child grows they will gradually learn how to share their toys and become more socially aware. This skill is developed through the practice of being with other children. They are adjusting to the need to take turns with another child, and this time can be filled with inappropriate behaviour of hitting and pushing rather than sharing. This is the developmental stage of finding out social awareness of others.
Gradually they will move into imaginative and creative play in small groups. You can ask your child what toys they would like to bring to the play date. This will give your child the experience of thinking what other children might want to play with, and what toys they are happy to share with others.
Socialization is the process of preparing your child to function comfortably and healthily in society. Helping your child to be successful in this process should be a fun and shared experience for you and your child. Enjoy!