Your child’s social development in the first five years

Want to raise a social child? Here’s what social milestones you can expect the first five years.


From the minute your child is born, her emotional and social development will begin to take shape. From those first smiles and moments of eye contact to later playing with other children in a playground, your little one will go on a journey of self discovery – which will also have a direct impact on how she interacts with family and friends as each year passes.

According to Stanford Children’s Health, your little one should reach certain emotional and social developmental milestones at certain ages- just like she’d learn to crawl, talk and walk. Here’s what to expect in the first five years.

Your child’s social development in…

The first six weeks

  • Your baby begins gurgling and smiling.

Three to six months

  • Your  little one recognises familiar people and acts sociably – smiling, staring, kicking and waving arms excitedly.

Six to 12 months

  • Your baby can play interactive games like clapping and peek-a-boo.
  • Your baby will get anxious around strangers from seven or eight months and will become quite clingy. Keep socialising with other moms and babies though.
  • As her mom, you are the centre of her social world.
  • She won’t show much interest in other babies or children.

1 to 2 years

  • Your baby likes to interact with other children, approaching them and playing silently side by side (parallel play).
  • She is unlikely to play co-operatively and will grab toys and be reluctant to share.
  • She has no concept of taking turns and his favourite words will be ‘mine’ and ‘no’.
  • She might alternate between clinginess and resistance towards you.
  • She ‘shows off’ to seek attention.

2 to 3 years

  • She uses language to communicate his needs and expresses a wide range of emotions. Encourage her by naming emotions.
  • She will show more interest in other children and may even show prefer¬ences for particular ‘friends’. Help her by making arrangements or joining a play group.
  • If shown how, she will stop grabbing toys, start sharing and taking turns – although she may find this very difficult.
  • She will fight with other children.
  • Try to make her aware of other people’s feelings through talking about yours, showing her pictures and reading her stories.
  • She will be able to leave you more easily from this stage.

3 years

  • She may become more outgoing, but not necessarily in a group.
  • Fights and squabbles are common.
  • She is starting to develop sensitivity to other people’s feelings.
  • Encourage her to share and praise her when she does.

4 to 5 years

  • As her vocabulary and language skills explode, she will enjoy talking to adults and children, making up stories and songs.
  • She might become bored when she spends too much time alone.
  • She learns to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ by your example.
  • She begins to form a friendship with a particular child, but don’t expect it to run smoothly!
  • Supervise play and help resolve disputes by suggesting new activities.
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