First Grade Social Development

In first grade, children are striving to become more independent, and they are more involved with their social lives than ever before. This is an exciting time for children, but they also struggle in this early stage of social development. Learn what to expect when your child is in first grade and what you can do as an effective parent.

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They think everyone sees the world the way they do.

In first grade, children think they are the center of the world. They may have strong opinions, and they can’t understand why others disagree with them.

What you should do: Expose your kid to many people, especially children. When kids play and develop friendships, they learn to help, share and consider other people’s feelings.

They fool around in school.

A lot of kids this age can’t help bothering other kids at school; they yell, sing, hum, whisper, touch each other and bustle around.

What you should do: Keep in touch with the teacher to be aware of your child’s classroom behavior. Enforce the same rules at home that your child has at school. This helps him understand appropriate behavior and become comfortable with the expectations of adults.

They start being affected by peer pressure.

First grade is often the year that peer pressure pops up. Children mimic their friends, they care what people think of them, and they value their friends on the same level as parents and teachers.

What you should do: If your child has a friend who has a bad influence on him, don't wait too long to take action. Feel free to arrange playdates with other children.

Their friendships are unstable.

Since first graders are just beginning to develop their social skills, there will invariably be bumps in the road. They are often mean to other kids, they have little sense of loyalty, they can be bossy, and they can become tattletales.

What you should do: Talk with your child about what it means to be a good friend and how to get along well with others. Even first graders can understand these concepts and talk about them.

Boys are friends with boys and girls are friends with girls.

The two genders tend to separate into their own social groups in first grade. Girls form many friendships, but they can be fickle. A friend today is an enemy tomorrow. Boys have smaller groups of friends, but these friendships generally last longer.

What you should do: Accept this trend as normal, but don’t worry if your child's best friend is of the opposite sex.

They identify with adults outside the family, such as teachers and neighbors.

First graders are striving to become independent and they’re hungry for life, so it’s normal for them to become interested in people outside the protected circle of family.

What you should do: Don’t worry if you’re not your child’s best friend anymore. It’s healthy for children to be exposed to different people.

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