Social situations can help your child build new skills.

How Does Socialization Affect Child Development?

by Erica Loop

Unless your little one lives in a bubble, the other kids that are around her will have some impact on her social development. Early socialization can help your toddler or preschooler to build a basis for a lifetime of engaging with others. Before you begin to worry about the perils of peer pressure, remember that your preschooler's socialization schedule can actually give her new skills and boost budding abilities.

1. Building Empathy

As your child moves into late toddlerhood and the preschool years, he is becoming more aware of what other people are feeling, otherwise known as empathy. Imagine a world without empathy -- it might mean no sharing, caring or lending a helping hand. Socialization during the early years doesn't only mean that your young child is playing tag and pushing around trucks with his favorite friends; it also includes getting a jump on the ability to tackle his friend's feelings and perspectives.

2. Sharing

Any mother of an only child knows that an isolated little one often equals the inability to share. If your child has all of the toys to herself, why would she ever want to give them up? Early socialization gives toddlers and preschoolers the chance to develop sharing skills. While it's no guarantee that your 3 year old will gleefully hand over her favorite toy train to her playdate partner, the more experiences that she has in social situations with other kids, the more likely it is that she will gradually learn a lesson in give and take.

3. Language Development

Chances are that your little learner is using a lot of new language, even by himself. While self-speech is perfectly normal in tiny tots, a social setting can help your child to build up his language skills. Whether your preschooler is talking to his preschool friend about the importance of wearing a ball cap while playing t-ball or discussing how to build the best block tower ever, he is learning new words and getting a chance to practice his own speaking skills such as taking turns, rephrasing and creating a clear conversation.

4. Problem Solving

Watching a group of preschoolers play, you are sure to see some sort of conflict arise during the course of a group gathering. Whether it's the inability to choose a play pursuit, two or more kids who claim the right as a leader or a struggle to figure out the right rules of a specific game, social situations can give your young child the opportunity to learn about problem solving. Suggesting solutions in a vacuum doesn't help your little one to understand that each problem can have more than one answer. Group play can help kids to bounce ideas off one another, learning different problem solving tactics and techniques.

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