One of the greatest wonders of the preschool years is watching our children develop their very first friendships. From babies who are overwhelmingly focused on their nearest and dearest caregivers, they become social creatures with playmates all their own.
For a developmental perspective on this transformation, we turn to one of our most trusted experts in early childhood, Louise Bates Ames. Her books on each year of child development are brilliant, full of insight and sensible too.
Here are a few excerpts on preschoolers' changing relationships to their peers --
On two-year-olds: "Parents should not be disappointed if the sociality of children of this age does not seem to amount to much. It can be disappointing, after you have gone to the trouble of getting children together, when they often do not seem to pay very much attention to each other. We assure you, getting them together is worthwhile."
On three-year-olds: "All that you have been waiting for in the direction of your child's playing nicely with others may come to you when your boy or girls turns Three. Children of this age, even though still rather immature in their social reactions, tend to be extremely enthusiastic about other children. 'We' is a favorite word, and 'friend' is coming into the child's vocabulary."
On four-year-olds: "The typical Four-year-old loves adventure, and other children, for him, can be a big adventure.... Children at this age enjoy each other so very much that often playtime goes smoothly without too much interference.... Children are now tremendously interested in each other as people, and they are also tremendously interested in, and ready for, group activity."
So you see, all of those playdates were worth it in the end. And it just keeps getting better!
Where are your children in this amazing process?
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