MAK­ING FRIENDS!

Help your tot find her best com­pan­ion

Mother & Baby - - CONTENTS - BY BINAL ZAVERI-GHELANI

Splish splash! Bath time may be de­signed to get lit­tle ones clean, but for many mums, it’s also an op­por­tu­nity to calm fussy lil ones dur­ing the witch­ing hour. The key to do­ing so is en­sur­ing that the en­tire ex­pe­ri­ence is as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble — both for mum and for tot! Dr Navneet Kaur, con­sul­tant neona­tol­o­gist and pe­di­a­tri­cian, Apollo Cra­dle, Mum­bai shares tips to give your baby a sooth­ing bath.

Mums are an en­thu­si­as­tic bunch. We of­ten har­bour a rosy pic­ture of pic­nics in the park com­plete with a check­ered table­cloth, cup­cakes and fresh lemon­ade. We laugh and chat with our mum friends while our kids frolic around mer­rily, play­ing games, shar­ing their toys and en­joy­ing each oth­ers’ com­pany thor­oughly. But then we wake up and the bub­ble pops be­cause the re­al­ity of play­dates with our friends and their kids is not al­ways as we had imag­ined Tod­dler friend­ships are not quite as pre­dictable and easy­go­ing as one would en­vi­sioned them to be. A whole lot of fac­tors come into play and if we take some time to un­der­stand th­ese we will be equipped to set re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions and also our lit­tle ones fos­ter bud­ding friend­ships.

AGE

Devel­op­ment of so­cial skills is a grad­ual process. Ba­bies love to ex­plore and are not selec­tive about who their friends are. They want to in­ter­act with ev­ery­one and don’t have one best friend. It’s only af­ter five years that they start de­vel­op­ing pref­er­ences. As they ap­proach five years, you see more fo­cus and more con­struc­tive play. They can play to­gether, un­der­stand ba­sic rules of the game and can sit down in one place and con­cen­trate on one ac­tiv­ity for a rea­son­able amount of time. Be­fore this age, they get dis­tracted eas­ily and flit from per­son to per­son and from ac­tiv­ity to ac­tiv­ity. In the age group of zero to six, there is an evo­lu­tion in the child’s so­cial in­ter­ac­tions. Namita Thadani, Co­or­di­na­tor - a Prepri­mary di­vi­sion of Po­dar ORT In­ter­na­tional School, Mum­bai gives us gen­eral guide­lines on what one can ex­pect at each year though it is im­por­tant to bear in mind that each child de­vel­ops at his or her own pace: Age 1: He can recog­nise fa­mil­iar faces like grand­par­ents and fam­ily friends who may visit of­ten. He may make some sound to at­tract them by squeal­ing or cry­ing. Age 2: Chil­dren learn to en­gage in par­al­lel play. Their so­cial be­hav­iour re­flects ego­cen­tric think­ing. Age 3: As­so­cia­tive play be­gins and chil­dren start look­ing for a com­pany to play. The con­cept of shar­ing has still not de­vel­oped in them but they may be­gin to solve con­flicts as they want to con­tinue play­ing with their peers. In­tro­duc­tion of feel­ings and emo­tions is great at this age. Age 4: The child has de­vel­oped ba­sic so­cial skills and un­der­stands the con­cept of shar­ing and turn tak­ing. The child demon­strates em­pa­thy at this age and also loves be­ing in­de­pen­dent. Ages 5 and 6: The child is still build­ing so­cial, emo­tional and think­ing skills. How­ever, he may not be able to ac­cept los­ing a game or take crit­i­cism.

OB­SERVED BE­HAV­IOUR

Chil­dren be­tween the ages of 0 to 5 learn be­hav­iour pri­mar­ily through ob­ser­va­tion and im­i­ta­tion. When they are ba­bies, they mainly ob­serve the be­hav­iour of their par­ents and tend to mimic this so it in at home that the seeds of shar­ing, friend­ship and af­fec­tion are sowed. “So­cial­iza­tion is an im­por­tant part of a child’s over­all devel­op­ment. Al­though a lot of par­ents opt for mother-tod­dler classes nowa­days, the child picks up the so­cial cues from the par­ent,” says Namita. A home en­vi­ron­ment where par­ents and other fam­ily mem­bers share their things freely with each other, where there is an en­gag­ing con­ver­sa­tion and pos­i­tive in­ter­ac­tion lay the foun­da­tion for a so­cially well-ad­justed child. “Teach chil­dren to be em­pa­thetic and lov­ing by be­ing so our­selves. If a par­ent raises their voice, hits or shouts at a child, the child is bound to do the same with his peers,” ex­plains Genevieve Jaanam Ad­vani, founder and prin­ci­pal of Early Birds play­group, Mum­bai.

COM­FORT LEVEL

As adults aren’t we selec­tive in who we en­gage with, who we share with and who we con­fide in? Sure we are and that is per­fectly ac­cept­able. And yet we tend to have lofty ex­pec­ta­tions of our child talk­ing to and be­ing friendly with any and ev­ery other child. Just as we adults are selec­tive about our friend­ships, chil­dren need and de­serve the same right to pick their friends. As kids reach the age of 4.5 years, they have the abil­ity to choose their friends and it is vi­tal and we as par­ents have them the space to do so. “While it is good for your child to be friendly with ev­ery­one, please al­low him the lib­erty of choos­ing who they are com­fort­able with and who their friends are,” says Genevieve. She stresses that a par­ent should never force the child to be­friend those they want him/her to be

friends with. Friend­ships will au­to­mat­i­cally bloom where there is mu­tual com­fort, re­spect, ad­mi­ra­tion and shared val­ues.

SHAR­ING

When we grew up, most of us lived in joint fam­i­lies with mul­ti­ple kids of dif­fer­ent age groups co­ex­ist­ing in the same house­hold. We had sib­lings and cousins who we played with, squab­bled with and shared with. But now many of us have only one child and live in nu­clear set­tings so our kids don’t need to share their toys at any­one. But for­tu­nately, shar­ing is not some­thing that can be taught, it can only be learnt through ob­ser­va­tion. In school though, teach­ers to teach this con­cept and while this cer­tainly helps, chil­dren will au­to­mat­i­cally start shar­ing as they grow and as the com­fort level grows. Coun­selling psy­chol­o­gist Habiba Ku­drati sug­gests that it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the in­her­ent per­son­al­ity of each child and to ex­plore the world through their eyes. “Don’t ex­pect a pic­ture per­fect child. Some kids are in­tro­verts while oth­ers are go-get­ters. Ac­cept the child as he is,” she says. She rec­om­mends telling sto­ries about friend­ship and shar­ing but without stress­ing the moral - the moral will au­to­mat­i­cally be­come a part of their sys­tem. More­over, she stresses that moral qual­i­ties have to ex­hib­ited by the par­ents first. Adults also won’t sac­ri­fice and com­pro­mise with un­known peo­ple. Sim­i­larly with chil­dren too, as they play with and get to know the other child, they will au­to­mat­i­cally share their toys without adult prompt­ing.

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