Parents these days are faced with a dilemma – how will they raise their children in a manner different from how they were brought up? Parenting, while remaining a noble vocation across generations, was simpler two or three decades ago. When today’s parents were themselves children, they played with other kids a lot and got dirty. However, with the advent of technology and social media, children today spend more time in front of a screen (television, game consoles, mobile phones) than running around the community with other kids. It is a flawed notion that with the popularity of social networking sites, we are more sociable than ever. In fact, more and more parents fear that their children will grow up selfish and socially-awkward.
This fear is made even more apparent among parents raising kids in a condo. Condo living presents varying challenges in helping your child with socialization because of space limitations and the inherent condo culture. Most of the time, each condo unit is locked and kids are not likely to go condo-hopping. Condominium owners also hardly know their neighbors. However, most start-up families find themselves investing in a condo and are inevitably faced with this predicament. Below are tips on condo living with kids and making them more sociable.
Talk to Your Kids
The time spent with parents generally decline overtime. This maybe the trend but it’s not necessarily advised. In a study published in the journal Child Development, American researchers studied 200 families in over seven years. They found that children who spend more time with their parents tend to have better social skills and higher self-esteem. The activities are simple such as doing homework and watching television together.
Teach Them to Chat
Specific social skills are expected to develop at certain ages. Toddlers seek attention while older children are able to cooperate. At whatever stage though, kids must learn how to start a conversation. Practice this skill with them and do some role playing. Sit and play with your children and teach them how to say “hello” and “please,” how to take turns in a game, how to share, and how to deal with kids who are crying and bossy.
Start with Yourself
Parents should see to it that they know who their neighbors are. Make time to socialize with other parents and be the bridge for your children and theirs. In your own small way, try building a community in a condo set-up by being sociable with your neighbors.
Bring Them along
Whether it is a trip to the mall or the dry cleaner, try bringing your kids along. It would help their socialization skills if they are confident around other people and if they see you doing it. The more opportunities to interact, the better.
Practice Role Play
Some kids act more timid than they actually are in front of other people. Understand that being shy is not bad but it also probably means that your child needs back up. Spend time with your child and use your imagination in creating scenarios. What should he do when in a playground or in a birthday party? What should he do when kids borrow his toys, etc.?
Social Media Break
Kids are spending more time using technology than ever before, and parents don’t seem to care. The Boston Globe reported that 7.5 million pre-teens are on Facebook, five million of which are under 10 years old. The report based on a survey funded by Microsoft Research found that 55% of parents allowed their children to set up a Facebook account.
The Washington Post also reported that children today spend an average of 7.5 hours consuming media rather than interacting with other kids in active play. It is the parents’ responsibility to cut these hours down and encourage kids to socialize.
Enjoy the Amenities
Most condo communities have a pool area for residents and playground for kids. Take your children out and give them a chance to experience the outdoors. Keeping them inside the condo might be easier but this impedes a well-rounded child development. Take them out and give them the opportunity to meet other children.
Arrange Indoor Parties
Invite other kids over for playdates. You can also let your kids and their newfound friends help you in baking, crafts, and other art projects. Or simply gather them around a pack of chips and cookies.
Participate in Events
Condo communities have regular events for homeowners. Bring your kids and encourage them to join the group of other children.
Avoid Competitive Games
For starters, focus on activities with a common goal. Avoid competitions. This is to gauge how a kid cooperates. Child play is all about making friends, not rivals.
Don’t Be Too Proud
It is okay to acknowledge your child’s talents but don’t overdo it. Your child needs to interact with peers on the same level and trumpeting his skills especially when other kids and parents are around will only intimidate other children. This may even result to jealousy and children may end up making fun of your kid for being different.
Making friends is a process and some kids take more time than others. Children will go through painful rejection and even bullying, but stay balanced. Empathize with your child’s pain but don’t shield them too much. If you hover your child all the time, you are robbing them a sense of self-mastery and a sense of competency. In his website, Dr. Phil McGraw reminded parents to not overprotect their children “to a point that she’s a little princess on a pillow, because the day comes that she’s going to get out on the playground with other kids and somebody is going to hit her on the head.”
Helping kids socialize will have its share of ups and downs. It is a process that can be both thrilling and heartbreaking. Remember to always listen to your children’s social cues and support them. Raising kids in a condo is more challenging than the traditional neighborhood or community setup. Intervene a little bit and create opportunities for interaction but remember to let your child develop and flourish on their own and at their own pace.