A Guide to Collaborative Socialization Among Parents

Proper socialization is vital in early childhood. Early socialization has many long-term benefits for things such as collaboration, language development, and the development of interpersonal relationships in general. Ideally, parents and caretakers should facilitate this aspect of early childhood development. 

While socialization with parents or caretakers and family is important, it is also important to socialize children with their peers. As such, parents who work together to benefit the socialization of their children can have considerable success in preparing their children for skills vital to later in life. 

Be a Good Role Model 

Children derive a lot of their behavior from observing the adults around them. Therefore, if you model good socialization skills (e.g. sharing, understanding, good leadership), your children may practice these same skills with their peers. This is another reason to actively collaborate with other parents. You can collectively emulate behavior that you wish your children to model. Additionally, this behavior can also be a point of reference for your kids at a later date. For example, if a child exhibits bad behavior, you can ask them to remember and learn from a past scenario exhibited by the adults. 

Plan Interactive Activities  

Interactive activities are activities that involve a lot of active participation from the children involved. This active participation can support general socialization as well as the development of confidence and creativity. Many activities can be considered interactive, such as sports and games. Parents and caregivers can lead an interactive activity or they could enlist the assistance of an interactive performer to facilitate this. These interactive activities will be most effective and targeted to the interests of the children involved if all parents and caregivers are consulted and given a voice in the activity. 

Promote Physical Activity

Physical activity can be a valuable tool for promoting social development in children. There are many obvious ways that physical activity can be incorporated into childhood interaction, such as the engagement in sports. However, there are many opportunities for incorporating physical activity into less traditional activities as well. 

For example, scavenger hunts can promote movement, as can specific artistic endeavors such as sculpting. The inclusion of physical activity can release endorphins — known as feel-good hormones — and make the child feel more so that substantial effort was rewarded. Bounce houses are another way to facilitate activity. Running and jumping in these inflatable structures can be an aerobic workout for children, not to mention the many games they can play with others to socialize. 

Such physical activities can further be promoted by unique experiences led by a professional, such as a party clown. Individual parents and caregivers should be consulted to best understand what types of physical activity are most appropriate for the children involved. 

Highlight Shared Interests 

Collaboration with other parents or caregivers can give you the opportunity of unique insight as to the interests and preferences of a child that your child interacts with. This is valuable because it provides a platform for the children to collaboratively build interest from. 

This interest does not need to be specific. It could be a specific interest such as chess, but could also be a generalized interest such as strategic board games. It could also be an interest related to a specific franchise, such as a particular Pixar film. Furthermore, by collaborating with other parents, you can strategically introduce interests.

For example, you could introduce your children, nurture a shared bond, and send them to the same STEM-related camp together. This promotes learning while lessening the stress of attending a scenario where you don’t know anyone. 

Find Activities With Collective Goals 

Collective goals are a great way to develop social skills because regardless of the individual strategy, you are working toward the same endpoint. This not only forces children to work together for the sake of gaining a shared reward, but it also teaches them how collaboration works when you use strategies like problem-solving.  Therefore, they will not only develop social skills relating to compromise and empathy, but also develop their understanding of how different people from different backgrounds approach the world. Such goals can also provide a common interest that offers an opportunity for the kids to self-regulate to a degree

Know When To Give Them Space 

When we think of socialization, we often think exclusively about how we can interact with people effectively — to achieve our goals, to adhere to cultural norms. However, this approach often minimizes the reality of socialization. 

Effective socialization is not just conversational aptitude. It is also an understanding of the cues and indicators of the people around you. Therefore, an indication that someone needs space is just as important as the experience of interacting with others. 

An adult leader such as a professional clown can be valuable as someone to lead the children through activities, and also understand when individual children stray from the core activity. 

What Are the Challenges of Socializing Children? 

Socializing children is no easy task. It is a constant work in progress. Significant challenges relating to the challenges of socializing with children include:

  • Potential cultural differences;
  • Potential accessibility issues;
  • Frustration from parents or caregivers;
  • Overburden from parents or caregivers;
  • Lack of compatibility between children;
  • Differing socialization goals between parents and caregivers.

To work through these challenges, parents and caregivers need to overcome their own interpersonal issues in favor of socializing their children and focus on socialization goals for the children.