Toddlers are growing and learning so quickly. It’s fun to see their developmental milestones as they come and go. Here are some social skills for toddlers that are fun to teach and good to know:
I’ll never forget the time at church when my little 1 year old toddled up to some other girls to play… and one of the other toddlers just pushed her down.
Straight down onto the ground.
As a new mom, I’m going to say, my mama bear came out.
After a bit of tears, my daughter got up, and we kept moving. But that experience stuck with me. Even children as young as toddlers can begin to learn some proper social skills, how to handle frustration, and how to treat others.
Why are social skills important for toddlers? I’m glad you asked!
Age appropriate social skills for toddlers can give them so many helpful benefits. Here’s just a few:
- Helps form positive relationships
- Develops body language
- Is the building block to having conversations
- Improved mental capacity and cognitive abilities
So, let’s highlight a social skills that are great for toddlers & can be a lot of fun to teach!
Pull out these fun connecting questions to share some laughs with your precious ones!
Use them at:
- meal times
- car rides
- as a “calm down” trick
- for dinner time conversation
- or any time the day is getting chaotic or
- you need a reset to connect.
Active learning… not to be confused with “being overly active while trying to listen.” If you’re a mom of a toddler, you know exactly what I mean.
The being said, I need to clarify that toddlers learn by doing and by having experiences. So… sometimes it may be that they are “all over the place” when in fact they are listening and learning. As a mom, you know when your child is listening and when they are ignoring you completely.
But what is active listening? First of all, it’s important to be an active listener. This is after all, how we learn and retain important details. It’s also how we show other’s that we care about what they are saying.
Active listening is the practice of preparing oneself to listen well… with intention. It is a good social skill for toddlers to practice.
It involves a few key things:
- Preparing the mind to listen
- Observing verbal and nonverbal cues
- Giving a response
Want your toddler to show you that they are “listening to what you say?” Teach them to be an active listener.
Here’s how to teach active listening to your toddler:
- Model active listening when you’re listening to your toddler.
- Teach them to face the speaker and make eye contact when talking.
- Try to feel and undressing what they other person is saying.
- Teach them not to interrupt.
- Encourage them to ask a question/respond to a question before changing the topic.
The benefits of being an active listener are immense. Here’s the truth: If you aren’t an active listener to your child, they will not be an active listener to you (or anyone else). So, make a real effort to model good eye contact and conversational skills when speaking to them. It goes a long way..
Help prepare your kids for life, one skill at a time. Simple, easy skills every month!Learn More
Ahh, feelings. Some kids have no trouble telling the world how they are feeling. While others keep everything bottled up inside.
And, this sort of thing changes with time and developmental stages.
But we all know that being able to express feelings is an important social skill. And guess what, it’s super important social skill for toddlers as well. And it’s fun to teach too!
So here are some tips:
- Teach toddlers the name of their feelings. Allow them to practice saying these words when they see them in other people or through role play.
- Explain to them how feelings can be expressed in positive ways. Use words such as “I see you’re feeling disappointed, let’s try to move over here and play with this instead.” Saying things such as “don’t be a cry-baby” or “all you ever do is whine” have an opposite effect on toddlers. They will begin to behave exactly the way you are calling it out to be.
- Use moments of frustrations or sadness to build a close relationship with your toddler. Never punish because of emotions, instead be a safe place to express feelings.
Emotions are a H U G E part of a young child’s life. These “I Am Feeling” cards will reduce tantrums, meltdowns, and help your little one learn emotional awareness.Learn More
Toddlers grow so fast. They develop mentally and physically at such a rate that milestones are almost impossible to keep track of. It’s an amazing and beautiful thing.
During this toddler stage, they begin to develop theories about their world and their own mind. This is when they begin to pinpoint that they have their own thoughts and feelings.
And, that other people’s thoughts and feelings may be different than their own.
Empathy is a skill that allows a person to understand how someone else is feeling. Everyone does not possess this skill. But, everyone who desires to be social should.
I have hard people say that toddlers just don’t understand how people are feeling or aren’t able to comprehend how their actions affect other’s. I disagree. This is a social skill for toddlers to begin working on.
Parents can show empathy to their children at a very young age. This shows anytime they are social with other children.
You can nurture empathy in your toddler by:
- Showing empathy to them when they are scared, sad, or upset. Relate to how they are feeling, don’t brush off their feeling no matter how petty they may seem to you.
- Talking to them about how other kids are feeling. Say things like “Timmy is feeling sad because he was playing with that truck first. Give him back the truck and you can play with this car instead.”
- Not trying to fix your toddler’s emotions right away. Allow them to express themselves and then give them a way to work out the situation so they don’t feel that way again. This validates their feelings and allows them to make sense of how others may feel.
- Allowing your toddler to see the results of their mistake and therefore teaching them cause/effect. “Samantha is crying because she is hurt. Do you see her rubbing her arm? She is sad because it hurt when you pushed her.”
- Using role play. This can be super fun! Use different situations examples, act out how someone may be feeling, and have your toddler act or say what they would do in that circumstance.
Using Their Imagination
At first, I wan’t sure how to explain that using imaginations is a social skill. But I truly believe that it is. Let me explain…
It’s a person’s imagination that drives conversations, pushes them to ask questions about other people/situations, and helps foster a life-long desire to learn new things.
So, of course, it’s a social skill. And a good one at that! We tend to gravitate towards people who use their imaginations… even as adults.
But back to toddlers- toddlers have great imaginations! It’s fun to watch them grow. You literally never know what could happen.
There are many ways to foster imaginations, but here are a top few:
- Read stories. Lots of great stories about far away places and funny characters. Allow the books to come alive as you tell the stories. Make reading fun!
- Give your toddler independent play. You see, there is a difference in playing and being entertained. Toddlers will benefit from being given time to grow independence and creativity.
- Decrease screen time.
- Let kids figure out the answers to their problems on their own. I know often times it’s easier to just do it. But, critical thinking skills and imaginations are linked. Allow them to work though their “sticky situations” on their own to build their imaginations.
- Provide toys that are open ended. These types of toys don’t have specific rules but rather can be played with creatively.
Check off critical household, social, and hygiene skills for your child so they’re prepared (not petrified) of growing up!