Some toddlers are social butterflies, readily opening up to anyone and everyone they meet, while others need a bit more time to get comfortable. Whether you’re planning to introduce Baby to just one new adult, such as a new caregiver, or a whole gaggle of grownups, it’ll pay off to take a moment to prepare Baby before going in. Here are some tips for helping your toddler develop early social skills.
- Practice social scripts: Though Baby still has limited language, having mini “practice conversations” before the meeting can be helpful. You can play the role of the adult they will be meeting, and introduce yourself accordingly. Then, prompt you can prompt them to respond by saying hello. Keep the practice interaction short and sweet to let them know what to expect when it’s time for the real deal.
- Discuss the new person ahead of time: Give them a brief run-down on the person or people they are going to meet, and throw in a fun fact to get them excited. Try something like, “You’re going to meet your aunt, Ann, who lives in Australia with the kangaroos. You like kangaroos, don’t you?” This will givePRONOUN_HIM_HER_LOWER a positive association going into the introduction.
- Give the adult some warning too: If you’ve got a shy toddler, it can help to let the adult in question know this before the meeting comes. Letting the person know Baby needs a bit more time to warm up will likely change their approach when meeting them, and will also help them realize it’s nothing personal!
- Stay calm and upbeat: Baby feeds off your emotions, so if you’re coming across as anxious, chances are they will pick up on that feeling. Remaining relaxed and positive during the introduction and meeting will reassure them that the new adult is their friend.
- Be sympathetic: The world is a big place for your little tot, and what seem like routine activities to adults can feel very overwhelming to toddlers. If they are very nervous or anxious, let them stay close to you until they are comfortable.
Social skills don’t always come naturally to all children right away, so don’t be alarmed if Baby seems hesitant when it comes to meeting new people. You can help them get more comfortable by practicing appropriate interactions together, and making sure they have plenty of opportunity to engage with people of all ages outside of the home. They may need a bit more time to come out of their shell, but the more often they are exposed to new people, the more comfortable they will become with the concept.