Wednesday, July 20, 2011
As far as social skills with toddlers go, they are like little sponges just soaking up everything they see and hear. We know that modeling for them is the best way to teach our little ones. Things like manners, right from wrong and how to socialize with others. As parents, we have been working hard teaching them these things by telling them "soft touches" when interacting with their friends, smiling when greeting someone, and saying "thank you" and "please."
But as I was in the waiting room of my dermatologist's office today, I had a light bulb moment with my little girl. She was sitting in her stroller and I noticed how she was watching everyone in the room. Soaking it all up. Yep, I was thinking, "this is social development in the works!"
She saw one woman waiting and sleeping in a chair. She saw a couple of kids with their father sitting behind us. She watched a grandmother who came over to say "hello". And she also observed the receptionist behind the counter interacting with the nurses and staff.
Now, I have taken her to plenty of socialization 'experiences' such as doctor appointments, restaurants, malls, play groups, swimming pools, parks, mommy and me classes, birthday parties, etc. So she has had a lot of interactions already.
But what made today different was that I really put myself in her shoes and tried to imagine what a 14 month old would be thinking while watching people and here is what I came up with:
-Woman sitting in chair with eyes closed: "What is that strange person doing sitting in a chair and not paying attention to me? Is it naptime? I'm confused, I thought naps were taken in my room?"
-Receptionist: "Why is that lady behind a wall and not coming out? She isn't looking at me."
-Grandma: "This lady is friendly and funny! I like her."
Kids and parent: "I love kids and I am smiling at them and they are smiling back at me"
Or at least I thought that's what she was thinking. She definitely learned what goes on in a waiting room as we were there for 30 long minutes!
I can only imagine what it must be like for these little tots to witness things for the first time. Things I've witnessed for a long, long time and don't think twice about. I now realize how every social encounter is a huge learning experience for her. She's going to be learning appropriate behaviors, how people interact with others, what is normal/not normal, expectations and in a super fast amount of time.
Like I said, little sponges. Kind of exciting, but also kind of scary too!