Kids love spending time with mommy and daddy, but it helps their social skills when they play with other kids. Children start developing the skills for making friends between the ages of two and three years old. But if your toddler isn’t in daycare yet, how can he or she meet other kids and make friends? It’s easier than you may think. There are many free or inexpensive ways to connect with other parents and their kids.
1. Go local
Your community is a great place to start. Check out park district classes specifically designed for your child’s age. These interactive classes are a wonderful way to meet and connect with other parents in your neighborhood. If your toddler seems to make a connection with another child in these classes, exchange numbers with the parents and schedule a play date.
2. Social media
Social media is a great way to find new friends or reconnect with old ones. Go through your friends and take mental note of people with kids.
This website is the world's largest network of local groups. It’s easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one. A quick keyword search on the site for “kids” yielded almost 60 results, including neighborhood groups, groups for moms and toddlers, and groups for gifted kids. You can even search through the site before signing up to get an idea of how it runs.
4. Take advantage of play areas
Every Thursday evening, my sister and I go to McDonald’s with our two boys. No, not for the Shamrock Shakes. Many McDonald’s have play areas attached to their restaurants and it’s free to go in without a purchase. It’s a great way to catch up with a friend or sibling while the kids play.
5. Attend birthday parties
The idea of attending a party with 30 toddlers running around and screaming can sound a tad overwhelming, but it’s a goldmine for meeting other parents and connecting. It also gives you a chance to meet friends of friends and enlarge your circle of parent friends.
When trying to make friends for your toddler, remember that you’re making a new friend, too. Your child is always watching how you act, so set a good example by modeling positive behavior. Always be polite, respectful, and caring to other parents and their children.
For more information on building your child’s social skills and modeling positive behavior as a parent, read the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books, available on Amazon.