2017 Mar 11
Parenting with Joanne
10 thoughts that can help you determine your stand on this matter.
It’s always a joy for a parent to witness their child’s first ever interaction with another child. Often these times are embellished with oohs and aahs from adults and happy babies smiling at each other.
Very soon these innocent interactions move into a phase that requires much of your child and of you as well. If you, like myself, have ever wondered what part you play as a a parent in all of this, read on. Let’s consider a few ideas that can perhaps help you make your own decision about how much or how less you need actually be involved.
1. Confidence to have an opinion and express it
At home, your child enjoys the luxury of having his voice heard almost all the time. Adults are ever attentive and his needs are almost always met. With peers however, the situation isn’t the same. While some children are naturally loud and speak up during peer interaction, others may hold back. Whichever the case, children should be encouraged to have an opinion and express it. Peer interaction is a good place to start practicing this skill.
2. Learning values
Peer interaction can be a common ground to teach children how and when to say ‘sorry’, ‘thank you’, ‘please’ and much more. Modeling these values at home among adults is the best way to encourage your toddler to use them with his own friends. Remember that his home is his first learning ground and these values shouldn’t be forced on your child.
3. Learning independence
Moving away from your side and making the first move to play with other kids is a liberating and exciting experience for your child. Remember to assure him at all times when he looks back at you for that all needed approval. Children use you as their base for so many of their ventures. Its important how you react. Showing fear and resistance can cause unwanted negative feelings in your child.
4. Learning to wait for their turn
Young children need to be given opportunities to see situations from another person’s point of view. Taking turns at a game is a wonderful and safe way to help them see that other children have wants and needs that are fairly similar to their own.
5. Having fun
No matter how many fights and arguments children have when they play, they always have their share of fun. Try not to undermine this fact. A few tears should not be a reason for parents to ‘rescue’ their child from such situations. Instead, help your child overlook the temporary disappointment. Children really do enjoy time spent together. Believe it.
6. Being themselves
Peer interactions can be an ideal situation for children to identify and express their true selves. Watching children at play, very often parents are surprised at their own daughter’s leadership qualities and their son’s creativity or vice versa. If you can opt to stay a good distance away and still observe, when your child plays with other kids, please do. You will be amazed at what you find out about your own child.
7. Learning new behavior
Children learn from each other faster than we can imagine. That is why a preschool child will come home bubbling with songs and new words every day. In my opinion it isn’t so much of what the teacher has taught the individual child that affects this sort of behavior. Instead it is the act of children doing it together that matters.
Understanding that this influence is strong should also make us be more wary of his friends, as negative behavior can also be easily latched on to by your little one.
8. Growing up
It’s a process of maturing; maturing in body, mind and spirit. With every passing year, you can either help your child mature socially or handicap that development by interfering with his interactions on an extensive level. Life lessons are there to be learnt in his seemingly simple interactions with other children. Be mindful of these as you guide him through it.
9. Be wary of bullying
Dominating and being dominated upon, are common situations that arise when children play. Expecting it to happen will help you look at peer relationships in a practical light. Having said that, parents if not teachers or other caregivers need to definitely keep and eye out for bullying behavior. If bullying isn’t addressed immediately, children can be subjected to unwanted emotional and social damage.
10. Let him figure out the details
What to play and how to play are decisions that children should be encouraged to make on their own. Try to limit your role in telling your child what to do at every turn. Think of the experience as something that can be used to enhance creativity and independence.