The first years of a child’s life are filled to the brim with developmental milestones. To help foster your child’s social and emotional growth, plan some enjoyable learning games and activities for your child. Some of the best lessons in life are presented when you’re learning how to share and play nice with others.
Age-appropriate board games that require two or more children help your child learn patience and socially appropriate rules such as waiting for a turn or losing gracefully. Toddlers and younger children will have a harder time waiting, but over time they will develop the social skill and impulse control to do so.
Sharing Games and Activities
Games and activities that provide opportunities for children to share can stimulate their social development. When two or more children build an object with blocks, they must learn how to work cooperatively and to distribute fairly. Having a tea party with stuffed animals or dolls also requires sharing among friends. Playing with Play-Doh and cookie cutters does the same thing. If the children refuse to take turns, the natural consequence is that the game is no longer fun and the other child might not want to play anymore. Sometimes kids need to learn the hard way to get the lesson.
Most children will jump right into a trunk full of dress-up clothes with enthusiasm. Dramatic play allows children to use their imagination and creativity, and foster their social-emotional development. Dressing up with another child provides the opportunity for social interaction between the two and the opportunity to express their emotions while being masked behind the face of their chosen character.
Taking turns drawing pictures on chalkboard or a Pictionary Jr. game makes for a social development game on how to recognize and express feelings and emotions. The nondrawer can guess what the person in the picture is feeling and maybe offer a story of why they think he feels that way. This offers an indirect way for your child to draw a picture of how they are feeling without actually coming out and verbalizing it. When you look at the picture, you could respond along the lines of, “I see that Billy is sad in this picture. Maybe he can’t find his favorite toy. I bet if he asks his mommy, she will give him a hug and help him find it.” This shows him how to express an emotion with words. This is a cause-and-effect activity, as well as a way to connect nonverbal physical expression with its emotion.