safe motherhood


Developing social skills

Learning how to get along with others is an important lesson for all children. Here are some suggestions of ways that you can introduce social skills early:

• Treat your baby as a member of the family by feeding him or her at family mealtimes if possible, rather than separately. They will follow conversations and make appropriate noises in the gaps. They'll also get a chance to observe 'grown-up' behaviour!
• Encourage your baby to learn how to dress or feed themselves. They will be proud of their new skills.
• Give him or her simple chores to do, for example, ask them to put things away, or fetch your bag.
• Always say "please" and "thank you" and your baby will start to copy.
• Don't expect too much in the way of sharing, but give lots of approval when they do.
• Teach him or her the words for feelings, just as you teach the words for colours. For example: "You're sad because Jo can't come to play."
• Although one to two-year-olds don't play 'together' so much as just play 'alongside' each other, still invite friends home.
• Keep your toddler informed about what you've planned to do next. For example: "After lunch, we're going out to see Susan", and give him or her a warning that things are about to change - "Another five goes on the slide then we have to go home."
• From about two years old, he or she will want to be independent, but will need your approval. They may behave badly because they need your attention.

How to deal with biting

• Put a child who bites firmly away from the other children - in their room if it happens at home - saying "no!"
• Give the bitten child all the attention and a favourite toy to play with.
• The biter will soon learn that this is not the way to gain approval.
• If a child bites a lot, think about what might be behind the behaviour and take steps to tackle it.

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