At one stage of development toddlers, as they become more aware of themselves and people around them, all the sudden become very shy, especially towards strangers. This is normal and nothing to worry about. Usually most toddlers grow out of it very fast. But for some toddlers, making friends and getting along with other children might be a bit harder. Some toddlers show socialization issues.
Today we will try to look at this type of behaviour and offer some solutions you can try with your toddlers.
When my son was a toddler, I really emphasized teaching him to use 2 handy phrases when he was having difficulties with other children: “I’m not done with that yet.” and “I need more space.” Both phrases can be used to assertively stick up for himself and helped him communicate his needs to others in a friendly way.
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With our shy kids, we found that it helped to have a child led approach. Our eldest is very outgoing. He will rush into people’s arms, entertain our guest with hardly giving us the chance to talk but his sister, is very shy. She will stay away from strangers and friends she hasn’t seen for a while and when guests come visiting she will not enter the room but watch quietly from afar. We let her take her time and never pushed her to join. We found that since we gave her her space and a chance to analyze the situation, she would slowly join the others when she felt comfortable.
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I think that recognising that all children are different is the key. Also that they are different from adults who have learnt social skills. Children like things that are familiar and it’s not uncommon for them to not want to say hello to people who they see out of context. Children also don’t feel they need to hide their emotions as adults do. I encourage my children to smile, even if they can’t say anything when we meet people in the street. We often have to practice as their natural response is to scowl!
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I feel it is important to remember that this is a difficult skill to learn and it takes time, patience and practice. It is good to give children lots of opportunities to socialise with lots of different people in different situations and setting giving them the chance to practice and develop these new skills.
author at The Adventures of Meemoo and Pook. Follow Gemma on Facebook and Pinterest
I find it very helpful to create safe ways for my child to learn the social behaviour. So, if the child is having a hard time playing with or making friends, I’ll arrange a play date with one other child, and make sure I’m playing with both children. This will make my child feel more at ease, so my child will want to continue playing with the other child after I leave the situation
author at Mommy Crusader and her Knights and Ladies.
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Toddlers have different personalities, and some are more social than others. I find that they open up in time. With toddlers who are shy around new kids, you can focus on making one or two special friends whom they can see and play with more often. Playdates are also about meeting other moms, so seeing you chat with another adult may prompt your toddler to be more welcoming towards a new friend.
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Mihaela runs Best Toys 4 Toddlers blog and loves to come up with new ideas how to use old toys her 2 daughters keep leaving on the floor to slip over. She loves them despite the fact that they call her mommy few hundred times a day, and it makes her nuts.