Q: My toddler has been at home with me since he was born. Do you think it is necessary that he begin preschool or child care in order to develop social skills?
A: Learning social skills is certainly very important for young children. The more experience they have interacting with peers, the more they learn about how to get along with others, and the richer their world becomes as they develop new relationships.
Interactions with other children can happen in many different ways. It is not necessary to send a child to child care solely to provide peer experiences. Other options are: joining parent-child classes, meeting other families with young children in your neighborhood and inviting them over to play, or going to the playground and other places where you would find families with young children.
Developing social skills is a process that takes time and experience. For example, learning to take turns and share are skills that evolve over several years, as children practice over and over how to handle these challenging situations. It is very helpful to young children when parents and caregivers coach them in this process, act as good role models for self-control and other social skills, and keep their expectations for children in line with their developmental age and stage.