"I'm concerned my child isn't interacting with others."
If your child seems withdrawn, reach out for help.
Children who are typically developing are naturally social. Babies will turn their heads towards sounds, make eye contact and spontaneously smile. Toddlers will watch you and be responsive to your social interactions with them. Even very young children are keen observers. They take interest in other people, are happy to show affection – and are eager to bring others into their world by pointing, making sounds and even sharing objects. Developing social skills is all about learning how to "play well" with others. Early on, it begins with the back-and-forth exchanges in peek-a-boo and pat-a-cake games, using gestures and pretend-play. As your child gets older, appropriate social development includes learning to share, taking turns and managing problems and negative emotions with communication and coping strategies instead of tantrums.
How to help your child's social/emotional development:
- Parent-child interactions are crucial opportunities for teaching social behaviors
- Use praise and encouragement when your child is using positive skills
- Play back-and-forth games that teach them to take turns
- Encourage pretend play and self-expression
- Teach skills before your child goes into a new social situation
- Help them use words that describe their emotions and feelings
When to be concerned:
- Child doesn't respond to people or seems unaware
- Child shows limited emotions; has trouble understanding other people's feelings
- Child has no interest in interactive or pretend play
- Child is very withdrawn and prefers to play alone
- Child displays repetitive motor behaviors such as hand flapping, finger flicking, or rocking
What to do if you are concerned:
- Contact your pediatrician