Posted , updated Feb 23, 2006.
Parents want their children to be friendly and accepted by their friends. Often parents feel upset when they see their child hanging back or watching from the sidelines.
The social skills that children need to learn – taking turns, playing by the rules, tolerating frustrations, reaching out to others, accepting others, saying, “please” and “thank you” – are important throughout life. They are also important for right now.
It is normal for very young children to have difficulty with these behaviors—and it takes time for them to master social skills. Daily and consistent love and support will help along the way.
It can seem scary for three or four year olds to fail at a task or to feel excluded from a play activity.
Try to understand the situation from the child’s point of view. If your child seems uneasy about a particular game (duck, duck, goose, or tag, or hide-and-seek), remember that lots of noise and activity can be over exciting and scary. Your child may need time to observe and feel safe before joining in.
Sometimes, playing these games with your child one on one – in a more relaxed setting – can help her feel more comfortable before joining the group. Other things that parents can help with include:
Focus on your child rather than your own fears. If you are worried about your child becoming unpopular in the way that you felt unpopular as a child, your fears may make the situation worse for your child.
Relax and don’t push. Your child will learn and blossom with your encouragement and guidance. Praise your child for his efforts and successes and help him to take pride in his progress.
Register to rate articles and leave comments.
© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
University of Illinois Extension