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How toddlers make friends

No empathy to talk of, egocentric to say the least. The only part of give-and-take they can relate to is “take”. But with time and practice they will learn the basics of how to be a good friend. And you can help.

Even though your toddler's agenda is me, give me and I want that, over the next couple of years they will learn how to share, cooperate, care about others and 
even work out their disagreements. They will learn what it means to be a friend.
You can help a little on the way:
- You’re your kid’s first best friend. So when you’re playing, encourage sharing and sticking to the rules. Don’t always be second, don’t always lose. Be a real friend!
 
- Socialize with others often and regularly - offer plenty of opportunities for practice. Start one on one, and stay away from threes (it just doesn’t work…). And keep the play dates short.
 
- Don’t expect anything more than parallel play at this age. But this is about more than just playing alongside each other. At a glance it looks like they are absorbed in their own worlds. But if you look closer you can see them observing, maybe imitating and of course grabbing - that is the early stage of cooperative play.
 
- Encourage cooperative games like ball-playing, building with bricks, tag, and hide-and-seek. Do things that are suitable for doing together like baking and laying
puzzles.
 
- No pressure. There’s no point, and can actually back-fire. Give time and space for your toddler to discover the beauty of friendship.

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