Friendships in early childhood can be puzzling to adults. Kids haven’t learned the social graces that adults use when communicating with each other, and it’s easy to become alarmed when you hear your child say something harsh to a friend. If you’re having a hard time understanding the preschool social scene, you’re not alone — many parents struggle with this same thing. That’s why the dedicated staff at The Blue Elephant Learning Center has put together some main points about how little kids interact with each other and what it means for their development:
Between the ages of three and seven, children make friends through play-pretend. This make-believe play is essential at this age because it teaches children social skills and helps build the fundamentals for friendships now and in the future. These skills include sharing, cooperating, taking turns, listening to others, and even negotiating different views and ways of thinking about situations.
Children around this age are still learning how their actions affect others.They often show empathy when another child is upset or sad, but they are also very egocentric and often say things that hurts a friend’s feelings. A common example of this is when a child says something along the lines of “You’re not my friend” or “If you don’t do what I want, then I won’t invite you to my birthday party.” In these situations, the best thing you can do as a parent is use it as an opportunity for your child to learn more appropriate negotiating skills. Comment on how others feel so that your child sees things from other people’s viewpoints by using phrases such as “Maya seemed so happy when you shared your toy with her” or “Jacob looks really sad. I wonder why?” This kind of discussion teaches children not just to be nice to others; it also teaches them the skill of reading social cues, which is critical for navigating our social world later in life.
Children at this age can also share with their friends, but they’re still learning and practicing. Sharing is a hard skill for little ones, but as preschoolers become more aware of the feelings of others, they are more likely to cooperate and share with their classmates.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s social development, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our staff is trained in the most up-to-date practices of early childhood development, and we are more than happy to help however we can. You may contact us by calling (469) 287-0332 or via email at [email protected]. We hope to hear from you soon!