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Like every mom ever, I know that having friends is a huge part of growing up. I mean, really, without friends, how do kids learn to navigate the world beyond mommy’s skirts and daddy’s slacks?! But, as with everything else in a littlie’s life, they have to figure-out how to make friends before they can really take advantage of the positives. I’m starting early with my kiddos, with these 5 Ways to Help Your Toddler Make Friends.
Friends are the support group that kids need to help them expand horizons beyond home–and they’re a massive part of children gaining a strong understanding of how societies and cultures function. Besides that, kids need to have a grasp of how to make friends because friends are the essence of pretty much every relationship they’ll have when they’re all grown-up.
5 Ways to Help Your Toddler Make Friends
- Use Your Friends. No, not like ‘manipulation’, but maybe a little. Kids model their behavior based on everything their caregivers do (EVERYTHING). So, effectively, if you use your friends to show your children the benefits of having friends, that’s the first step in getting them interested in the concept of friends. Essentially, the kid that’s interested in having friends is guaranteed to be the kid that is going to take initiative to make friends. So, invite your friends over to the house or meet them out in the world for lunch. Whatever. Just do it with your kids around and let them see how fun having friends can be.
- Make New Friends Yourself. Let me repeat: Kids model their behavior based on everything their caregivers do (EVERYTHING). This is a proven fact. If you want your kiddo to make new friends, and you’d like them to have a little guide on just how to do that, give it to them by showing how a person starts a relationship. I’m kinda sucktacular at making friends in a spontaneous way, so I work at being creative to give my kids an opportunity to see new friendships in the make. For example, I started a “Momming and Blogging” Blupe Group (sponsor) to form a get-together of people like me that are trying to combine their two passions–being a mom and blogging. This’ll get me out making new friends and I can bring the kids along. Then, they can see a friendship blossom from the very start.
- Talk About Making Friends. Even if your toddler isn’t super-verbal yet, they understand so much more than than they let on! If you chat about your friends, share stories about how you met or fun things you’ve done together, you’ll give your littlies a few ideas on how they can interact with other littlies they’d like to connect with. Remember, relationship-building is a skill they have no experience in doing except with family for the majority of their lives, so if you can talk about it, give your little man some insight from your past experiences, if might boost their confidence and chances of success.
- Create Opportunities. Kids won’t ever connect if there aren’t times and places for them to spread their little wings. So, meet-up with your Blupe Group with their kiddos, go to the library during “toddler time” and plan to stay for play afterward, or hop over to the park on a regular basis when there are several other moms and toddlers dangling from monkey bars. I’ve offered to watch another toddler so his mommy could run some errands just so our two kids could play together. Do whatever you have to do to make time for your toddler to have an opportunity to meet other kids her age and start building relationships.
- Praise Successes. It’s hard for children to know if they’re doing well if we don’t praise them–even if it is something you find relatively intuitive like interacting with other people. So, while your toddlers are learning how to make friends, praise your kids just like you would if they were learning their ABC’s or how to write (although, I wouldn’t break-out a reward chart or anything for this). Making friends is a skill just like any other, so a “Good job on playing with Susie today. It looks like you guys are making friends.” will go a long, long way to help reinforce positive behavior for your babies.
If you would like to start rolling-through this list to help your toddler make friends, you should check out Blupe App. There are all sorts of crazy-cool groups already out there, but it’s also easy to set up your own group, if you have an interest that doesn’t yet have a group nearby you yet. It took me less than 5 minutes to set up my group. Then, it just took a few tweets and some posts on Facebook to get the word out that I’d started a group and was interested in getting together with other people in my area with the same interests. The connection with “real people” is what I was looking for, and Blupe made that easy in no time. Check it out. You might find people in your area already excited about getting together with you!
Wanna learn more about my group? Connect with me on Blupe!