When we think about children socializing, we automatically imagine a group in school, forging friendships and playing together. However, we develop social skills as early as the first few months of our lives, and there is no question but that interacting with others from as early an age as possible supports healthy child development, social skills and confidence in kids. Babies as young as three months old are automatically drawn to certain faces and voices, and you only have to put a young baby in front of a mirror to see their delight at getting the opportunity to interact with someone the same size as themselves! Midwives, health visitors and medical professionals are all agreed that it’s important for young children to begin interacting with peers their own age as soon as possible. While the schedule for new parents is hectic, it’s a great idea to factor in socialization as early as possible, perhaps combining it with other activities, so that children can learn to spend time with each other and initiate the development of skills such as communication, sharing and laughing. Learning valuable skills Primary socialization takes place when children learn the various rules and systems that apply to our society. However, the valuable act of mingling with others, sharing world views and discussing our lives and circumstances begins much earlier than that. In pre-school, toddlers learn important interactions such as sharing, taking turns and supporting each other, and these lessons are as valuable to child development as anything which can be found on the curriculum. Setting the scene for socialization Because of this, it’s never too early to set the foundations for great socialization. From the moment a child is old enough to see and recognize other people, they learn to communicate and interact. Playgroups, nurseries, pre-schools and social events all support children to develop their first skills, and parents can supplement this chronological process by spending as much time as possible with families who have children of a similar age to their own. While school does a huge amount to support the process of socialization, it should never be relied upon as the sole vehicle through which children learn to interact with others. Simply placing two children of any pre-school age side by side enables them to check out facial expressions, share language and gain a greater sense of self, by learning about others. Starting early to lay foundations for the future Babies largely learn to socialize through interaction with their parents or primary care givers. However, this process can be supported through introducing your child to others from two years old onwards, when they can play interactively. Before this age, children will benefit from all time spent with other people, and issues such as separation anxiety are largely eradicated by the first year to eighteen months.
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