Infancy and Childhood social development
For one reason or another, some children do not develop social skills as easily as others. They may earnestly seek peer relationships and then, having endured rebuffs, if not downright cruelty, retreat to the safety of home, family, and their own company.
There is probably nothing so painful for a parent as the rejection of his child. Parents need to take the long view of social problems and to map out a plan to solve them quite as carefully and thoughtfully as they would consider academic or health problems. There are guidelines which. if followed, will help these children if the parent is willing to take time and initiative.
All children go through definitive phases of social development. The infant or very young child plays alone quite happily, babbling to himself and occasionally sharing a treasure with mother or father. If another child wanders onto the scene, he is likely to get clonked with a block or pushed out of the circle of play.
Next comes the period when a child is able to play with one other child, and this includes an element of adjustment to the idea of sharing, of taking turns, of going ” first” or “last.” This is a bumpy road. fraught with failure, and the wise parent remains unshaken when Johnny’s playmate goes home in a huff or when Johnny barges in the door crying. “I hate Tommy. I wish he wuz dead. I’m never gonna play with him again!” Of course, in all likelihood Johnny and Tommy will be playing together in idyllic fashion within the hour.
Eventually the group grows larger-to three children and to four-and by the time the child enters kindergarten, he is able to join and to enjoy group experiences and to take his lumps with the others.
There are times when a parent must reach out for help, and it is generally the mother, who, faced with this assignment, is going to have to scan the available candidates in the neighborhood and to select a child who would make an appropriate playmate. Sex is not an issue. At this age and under these circumstances boys and girls play equally well together.
It is wise for her to approach the child’s mother and explain the situation. She is asking to “borrow” the youngster for a supervised visit in her home. Bribery is quite acceptable here. She can make it a special occasion-lunch or a tea party. Refreshments may be served first, and then the youngsters may have a short play period. (Emphasis on short.) The moment either child shows signs of boredom or restlessness, the visit should be brought to an end. The first visit must culminate on a happy note if more are to follow.
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