Making friends is a basic social-emotional skill that isn’t as rapidly developed as walking and talking. Communication skills, interpersonal skills and emotional self-control are developed with practice. You can help your preschooler learn to play cooperatively, share and be a good friend.


  1. Talking and listening
  2. Teach how to be a good friend
  3. Accidents happen
  4. Facilitate teamwork
  5. Playing solo
mother looking into toddler's eyes teaching how to listen

1. Talking and listening

Teach your children to talk about their feelings. It is important that they externalize their “big feelings” with their words. Labeling feelings is the first step in learning to negotiate relationships.

It’s important to teach your child to be an “active listener”.  Make eye contact, responding to the feeling and continue trading information.

2 toddlers playing and learning to share the same toy

2. Learning to be a good friend

It’s all about practice. Children learn how to make friends and be a good friend by playing. While playing with your children at home, teach them how to be a good winner or loser.  Play dates with adult supervision are great for practicing. You can help children to share by saying “are you all done playing with this toy? Time to share with your friend” or “you can tell a story or build something with everybody’s ideas”

one toddler kissing another toddler on the cheek being a good friend

3. Accidents happen

Your child is running around and accidentally bumps one of her friends, who starts crying. Teach your child to say “I am sorry”, to be kind and thoughtful. An example would be saying “you can get your friend a band aid or cold “boo boo pad” and help her”, or suggesting to your child to go to her friend and ask if everything is ok. Assure both that accidents happen, and friends help each other feeling better.

3 toddlers playing together developing social skills at early childhood development class

4. Facilitate teamwork

Encourage your children to socialize by saying “if all of you help to clean up, it will be much faster”. “Let’s be a team!”. Teamwork helps children realize that having friends and sharing can be fun.

happy child playing solo

5. Playing solo

It’s not a bad thing if your child likes to play solo. Toddlers are still in the process of learning how to play together. You can help them by saying “why don’t you call your friend to help you building a tower?”. Some children just tend to be more shy and reserved, so don’t push it too hard.


Being a social coach for you child will facilitate his social-emotional skills development. With your support and guidance, your child will learn how to make friends and have a great social life in the future.

wrote by: Marilee Hartling & Paula Boscardin

Does your child need a boost in his/hers social skills?

We have Social Skills Building groups.

 The Early Childhood Development Associates is located at: 8344 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles | CA | 90069