Babies in general take comfort from being close to their loved ones, especially in situations that are unfamiliar. You will often find toddlers tugging at their mother's clothes and pulling daddy's leg while walking through the mall or at the restaurant. But as your child grows up, her social interaction also expands beyond the immediate family. Through the ages of 3 to 6 years, your child will start interacting with other kids and even teachers, perhaps for the first time in your absence. So while you may have ignored the times she snatched a toy out of your hand, you will agree that it is inappropriate behaviour in a classroom environment or on a play date. This is the time when understanding boundaries becomes important for a child so that she can interact successfully.
Take time to observe
To explain the concept of boundaries and the need for them in social settings to your child, you first need to observe how your child behaves in that setting. For example, when she is playing with other children, is she forthcoming and enjoys group play or does she like to play on her own? Observations like these will help you figure out if you need to encourage more interaction in your child or tell her to simmer it down a little.
Explain through role-play
It is difficult for a 3-year-old to comprehend what personal space is. But she's more likely to grasp it if you show her behaviour she can imitate in a similar situation. Act out situations you think she is likely to encounter with her peers. For example, learning to share toys while playing. You can begin by sharing 'your' toys with her to let her know that it is good to have such an exchange during playtime. Give her the choice to share something with you, and if she hesitates use that as an opportunity to explain why sharing is a fun way to include more people in playtime.
Use movement games
This is a great way to give your child an understanding of how personal space works. You can have dance with each other, and you can assign her a square within which she can move. Explain to her what might happen if she moves into another person's square-they might bump into each other or fall. Another great way to explain the need for personal space is through the bubble game. Blow out bubbles one and show her what happens when the bubbles collide with each other. This is also a great way to iterate the concept of cause and effect. It will help your child grasp what might happen if they collide into someone or interrupt someone while they are trying to speak or even make something.
Finding the right pitch
Another area that you can help your child establish social boundaries in is speaking differently in different places. For example you can demonstrate how it is alright to scream and speak loudly in the park, but she must speak softly in places like restaurants and classrooms.
These little cues will help your child gain confidence in social settings and find her comfort zone in a classroom full of toddlers. Once your little one understands boundaries, she is more likely to establish healthy connections with her peers and mentors.
If you've used another way to teach your child about boundaries, we'd all love to hear it. Do comment below and share your ideas with the rest of us.