Getting Used to People

A child between the age of zero and five lives in a protective bubble.  And that is a good thing because that little one needs to be surrounded by people that she trusts and that love her and will protect her at all costs.  But even if that child has some siblings, those years are often relatively quiet and ones in which the majority of the people that child knows are primarily dedicated to one thing and that is satisfying all of her wants and needs. 

Obviously this is not the kind of world that child will eventually live in.  To say that very young children are spoiled is stating the obvious but that is natural and the way it should be.  It is the task of older childhood and adolescence to begin to reprogram your children to live in a world the rules of social behavior are far more complex.

The first time your child will be exposed to that kind of environment other than an occasional hour in the nursery at church or at day care will happen when your little one begins kindergarten.  There are a lot of surprises waiting for her there.  But one that kindergarten teachers know is going to be a huge challenge is reprogramming those kids to the idea that everyone in that room is not all about them but that they are there to be part of a larger society.

This will be quite confusing for your child and many days when she comes home unhappy or upset about what happened at school, the heart of the problem will be this orientation issue.  So anything you can do before your child goes to kindergarten to help your little one to learn to socialize in a larger circle of people and in a setting that is more normalized than the one at home will serve your kiddo well when those school days get underway.

Preschool is a great way to start that process early in life so much of that socialization is well underway before kindergarten days arrive.  But if that is not an option or there are good reasons not to go the preschool route, you can find situations of socialization in which you can have your child in a group of many other children her age where there are some rules and the children have to learn to get along.

Even if you do not work, day care has some value in this area.  You may wish to begin leaving your child at day care for an hour every other day starting around the age of 3-4 just to give her some time with others her age to learn how to behave in groups.  This is a good approach because even if there are problems, you are right back and able to take her home and talk through what happened to help her make adjustments.  And if she doesn’t go back until a few days later, she has time to process how to handle conflict and deal with authority differently so she has more success on the next outing.

This little exercise is also a good chance for mom to get used to dropping off her baby and leaving that child in the care of others to come back and pick her up later.  Not all of the adjustments about the start of kindergarten are on the kindergartner because the parents also have some processing to do.  And as you get used to seeing your child go into a social situation and come out better for it, you will be more confident.  And your confidence will be picked up by your child who will grow more socially adept and able to deal with the rules of society long before kindergarten days get underway.