Build your baby’s social skills with these tips.
WORDS DR NICOLA DAVIES
Whether you are a first-time mother or an experienced one, raising a friendly child is probably one of your top priorities. However, don’t worry if your baby doesn’t seem friendly as there are many ways to enhance their social skills.
Respond to Your Baby’s Emotions
Babies are born social, and that is why they prefer the sight of a human face over objects. According to Craig Ramey, PhD, co-author of Right from Birth, smiling back at your baby from the very beginning teaches friendliness. It will also give them a sense of trust that can help them socialise with others and eventually make friends easily. By acknowledging their emotions, you also raise their awareness of the feelings of others, with empathy being an important component of friendliness. At about six or seven months a baby can respond to your expressions, including smiling and hand gestures like waving, so this is a good time to introduce sign language as a form of emotional expression. A baby whose emotions are respected will be a friendlier baby.
Expose Your Baby to the Outside World
Let your baby explore the world around them and teach them to be receptive to unfamiliar items and people. At around six months babies can start to feel separation anxiety. Let your baby feel comfortable around their grandparents, your friends, and your neighbours. Encourage them when they greet a new person; this will show them that you are happy about how they are interacting with others. Play dates with friends and family are also a means of exposing your baby to new faces and places.
Take your baby to the park or to a gym for babies.
Provide them with opportunities to socialise with other babies,
and when they are old enough to understand the concept of sharing,
motivate them and teach them the skills necessary to do so.
Discourage Bad Manners
Babies learn very quickly because they observe and imitate others. Make sure that you break your baby’s bad habits immediately. For example, physical aggression like biting, pushing, or hitting, should not be taken lightly. Try to correct these habits at an early stage by showing your displeasure via facial expressions or saying something like, “Mummy is not happy with that behaviour.” It is important to be displeased with the behaviour rather than your baby; he or she is still learning the difference between right and wrong.
Use Toys and Activities
Playing age-specific games and engaging in activities can be a great way of developing a baby’s friendliness. Peek-a-boo remains the most popular game that teaches babies object permanence (understanding that objects still exist when they cannot be seen). Toys also promote language development and social skills development because babies will babble at them and play with them. Additionally, toys like teddy bears teach babies to share and be compassionate towards others. Babies care for their teddy bears and dolls, cuddling them and holding them close; this behaviour nurtures empathy and helps babies learn how to care for others.
Quality Parent-Child Time
One of the most crucial ways of helping your baby develop a friendly personality is spending quality time with them. Bonding with your baby relaxes them and supports brain development. Kissing and hugging babies builds trust and enhances self-image. Talk to them, hold them, and sing or read to them. The more comfortable and confident a baby is, the friendlier they will be.
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