Most parents know that it’s important to socialize their toddlers whenever they have a chance; good parents want to provide their little ones with opportunities to learn communication skills and how to get along with other children from an early age. However, without the adults even realizing it, toddlers have a way of communicating and speaking their own language to resolve conflicts, learn about sharing, and master the complexities of working with others — even if their methods might be a little crude and result in some hitting and crying.
It’s important to let toddlers interact with peers in order to learn these early lessons in social behavior, but it’s often easier said than done. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to monitor play dates closely and to do so with an open mind (which can get tricky). Obviously, no child is to blame when two small toddlers instinctively fight over a toy; but what happens when another child bites or hits your child in the scuffle?
When children are old enough to articulate their thoughts more clearly, they are old enough to begin resolving their own conflicts. As a parent, you must know when to step in and when to sit back, observe, and let them try to work it out on their own. Of course, you don’t want any child to get hurt, but you do want your child to learn how to handle things independently, rather than relying on mom or dad to intervene on their behalf.
This balancing act can be quite the challenge for any parent who naturally wants to protect their child at all times. Practice observing your child’s play time with other children without jumping into the fray; hang back, keeping an eye on them, and be amazed at how they seem to magically work it out themselves.
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