By age 3, most children benefit from some form of regular social contact, such as nursery school or play groups. Playing with other children even 1 day a week provides opportunities to practice and develop important social, emotional, and language skills. Children learn to share, cooperate, and negotiate as they interact with their peers.
Some children cry or cling when they are dropped off at a new day care or preschool. Assure your child that you will return and that the setting is fun and safe. If necessary, stay for a short while on the first few days, where the child can see you. Avoid talking with, cuddling, or holding your child for too long. If you show signs of nervousness and give the child a lot of attention, it is likely to raise his or her anxiety level. Let your child take the initiative in approaching others. Eventually, most children easily adapt and become comfortable in the group. But realize it may take longer for some children. And don't consider it a failure on your part or your child's part if he or she needs more time to adjust. For more information about day care, see the topic Choosing Child Care.
Social skills are learned from repeated practice. Work with your child to resolve problems with sharing, taking turns, or cooperating with others. For example, if a child refuses to share a toy, try putting the toy in time-out rather than a child.
Current as of: August 21, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics