Social development in toddlers

In their relentless drive to explore the world, toddlers gradually acquire social skills that enable them to get on successfully with other people. Many of these skills are acquired through observation and imitation of the adults closest to them, writes Dr Lin Day, founder of the Toddler Sense Programme.

The development of social skills also depends on interaction and activity with other children. Even though toddlers do not cooperate, share or make friends until their fourth year, if they have been given plenty of opportunities to play with other children, they will be at an advantage when they go to toddler group or preschool. 

Parents and practitioners can assess social skills by observing how toddlers play and interact with other children. If there are any delays, activity-based strategies can be developed to ensure optimal social development.  

Influences on social development
Social development depends on a large number of variables. Some of these include: genetic predisposition, psychological and health factors, cultural values and beliefs, attitudes and aspirations, positive role models, play opportunities, interaction with other children, a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment, maturation of the nervous system. 

Social development is a dynamic and interactive process in which temperament, personality, experiences with parents and carers, cognitive abilities, language and communication skills influence the outcomes.  

Social play
Play is an important part of social development. It provides the opportunity for toddlers to imitate the actions of others, to rehearse future roles, to coordinate their feelings and ideas and make
sense of their experiences. 

Play can be divided into a number of different types from free-flow play to structured and group play. These divisions enable parents and practitioners to plan activities and resources. 

Free-flow play
Toddlers initiate free-flow play. They decide what toys interest them the most, how they will explore them, how long the play will last and when they need support or help. The adult provides the materials and equipment, a safe and secure environment, reassurance, praise and encouragement.

toddlersense.co.nz

Time for Toddler Sense! 

A place where structured play goes hand in hand with imagination, the freedom to explore and adventure!

Each week our multisensory sessions have a unique theme, creating a whole new world of magical delights – imagine zooming through space, partying like pirates, or scuba diving into a magical sea!

Our programme is founded on decades of scientific research and the structure will help prepare your child for school. A fantastic opportunity to have fun, go on an adventure and bond with your child. All the while helping them develop their brain and physical abilities, as well as their social and emotional development!

Sessions are suitable for toddlers aged from 13 months to 4 years. We run classes for babies, too.

toddlersense.co.nz/christchurch