Social interaction is an important way for young children to learn and grow as individuals. Through interactions with others, a child learns to form emotions, imitate actions, while learning to understand and empathise with the feelings and intentions of family and friends.
Research on functions of the brain has also shown that social interaction sharpens cognitive skills1, while boosting the production of new brain cells and synapses to help develop strong and long lasting memories.
Frequent interactions can also help to boost the self-esteem of children, as your little ones become more confident about expressing how they feel to the people around them.
Here are four simple ways you can encourage your child to interact with others.
Create sharing opportunities
Use mealtime as an opportunity to interact with your child. Ask your little ones about how their day went. This will encourage your child to recall the highlights of the day, thus improving their memory skills.
Organise playgroups at home so that your child can mingle with and learn from other children. This exposure is not only memorable but educational as well.
Sign up for classes
Enrol your children in activities that they are interested in. Besides picking up new hobbies, such classes can act as opportunities for your child to socialise and make new friends.
Learn more about your child
If your child is shy or refuses to interact, gently probe and ask subtle questions to find out why. Your child’s answers may also give a clearer indication of his or her social personality type and how your little one would interact with others.
Children who are more extroverted tend to be energised by social interactions while introverted children get easily tired after interacting with others.
Understand that introversion is normal and not something to be ashamed about. Children who are more introverted may take more time to warm up to the people around them, so be patient with them until they are ready to socialise.
Whether your child’s personality more introverted or extroverted, you should treasure him for who he is. Appreciate the thoughtfulness and kindness that often comes with your child’s introversion, as well as the natural exuberance of your other more extroverted child.
1Leslie F. Clark (1993). Stress and the Cognitive-Conversational Benefits of Social Interaction. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 25-55. Retrieved on 27/8/2015 from Guilford Press: http://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/jscp.1922.214.171.124.