by Alex Brownsmith
When a baby is born, there is so much to take in and learn.
One of the most important skills your little human will have to learn is social skills.
This takes years and years to develop and master, and given that our social environment is always changing, our skills in this area are always being fine-tuned and changed to suit new circumstances. It’s mind boggling the things that babies and toddlers learn to do socially during the first few years. They go from being a newborn who can’t see your face, to a little person with their own personality and habits (good or bad, I’ll let you be the judge).
A child needs to develop socially so that they can function in society independently. It is of great importance that we, as parents, help foster and develop this skill throughout our child’s life. Social skills are involved almost every aspect of our life; home, work, sport, cultural activities, shopping, trips to the park etc.
Language development is another skill that your little human is learning from birth. It’s a funny thing, language development. Parents wait in anticipation for that first word (please, let it be ‘Mumma’), only to wish that your child would stop talking when he has a couple of hundred words under his belt by the age of 3.
Language development is extremely important for your child.
There are two main components to language development:
✅ Receptive language: how your child receives and understands language
✅ Expressive language: how your child communicates.
You will find that the receptive side of language development will come first, as this is the easier of the two.
HOW TO ENCOURAGE SOCIAL AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
These ideas are broad and they really apply to all age groups:
✅ Talk to your baby.
✅ Practise taking turns in ‘conversation’.
✅ Engage in conversation about what he/she is interested in.
✅ Use car travel time as a way to engage in conversation with your child.
✅ Self-talk is a very easy way to encourage tell your child what you are doing, while also helping them to make important connections in terms of time and place.
✅ Practise taking turns in daily activities. This will help your child learn about sharing and taking turns.
✅ Engage in creative play using dolls, trucks, blocks and play sets. This is a fantastic way of helping your child learn about and explore social norms and experiences.
✅ Practise and model manners to your child.
✅ Playing games such as peek-a-boo, hide and seek, tips and board games will help teach your child skills such as sharing, turn taking, and dealing with disappointments (e.g. when a game is lost) and excitement (e.g. when your child wins a game).
✅ Read every night with your child.