When Will My Child Make Friends?

As a parent, you want your child to grow up to be happy and healthy. An important part of happiness and health is their ability to get along well with others and make friends. If you’re wondering if your little one is on track socially, check out the age by age milestones below!

Age 1

By age one most babies are interacting with their caregivers and other trusted individuals in their life in a meaningful way. They smile, laugh, and may mimic silly sounds or words at this age. One-year-olds might also hand over objects or reach for them when their caregiver offers them. Babies at this age don’t typically interact with other babies beyond smiling or waving at them.

Age 2

By age two, most little ones have begun to interact with those around them but likely still prefer to interact with their primary caregivers or other well known or trusted individuals in their lives. Typically, kids engage in parallel play at this time: playing next to other children but not necessarily with them. They might also begin to become more possessive of their toys or other playthings and grab or demand them back when another child picks them up — this is totally normal as sharing is a skill they’re just not mature enough to possess yet. At this age, it’s also normal for little ones to act ‘shy’ around new people and to take quite a while to warm up to others.

Image via Unsplash/ Charlein Gracia

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Age 3

By age three, most kids have begun to participate in associative play, or, playing with one another as opposed to just next to one another. They tend to seek out other kids, though often just one or two as opposed to a large group, and enjoy playing games that highlight their imaginative personalities. At this age, kids may also begin to have a favorite friend or two, often based on a shared interest on one sort of play, like digging or dress up. At this age kids are beginning to learn about others but are still very egocentric so it’s normal to see challenges around sharing or playing games that involve following a lot of rules.

Age 4

At four years old most kids have had quite a bit of exposure to other children and may have begun to develop slightly more advanced social skills. Kids at age four tend to be more outgoing than their younger selves, though there is a wide range of what is considered normal when it comes to how shy or outgoing a particular child is. Kids at this age might also begin to enjoy being part of a larger group, like a team or class, and be able to follow established ‘rules’ for behaving in different situations. Four-year-olds understand and can talk about sharing and playing nicely but may still struggle to put the concepts into action when there’s something they’re particularly passionate about.

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As your child grows, you’ll see their social skills grow and advance right along with them. While you should always see your doctor if you have concerns about your child’s social development, it’s important to remember that there’s a wide range of normal when it comes to social development and that all kids develop at their own pace. Have fun watching your little one make friends!

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When Will My Child Make Friends?

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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