Learning social skills is an important part of child development. Good social skills enable children to interact positively with others and to communicate their needs, wants, and feelings effectively. In addition, the benefits of robust social skills extend far beyond social relationships and acceptance. Children with better social skills are likely to benefit directly.
Social skills must be constantly refined as children grow up. They are not something a child either has or does not have. These skills continue to develop with age and can be learned and strengthened with effort and practice.
Some social skills are quite complicated – like understanding the importance of standing your ground when a friend is being bullied, or staying silent when you disagree with a referee’s decision. Look for teachable moments when you can help your children improve. Learn more about the seven most important social skills for kids and how you can teach them.
Social skills bring a whole range of benefits to children. They are associated with greater success in school and better relationships with peers.
Children who have strong social skills and get along well with their peers are likely to make friends more easily. Friendships also provide children with opportunities to practice more advanced social skills such as problem-solving and conflict resolution.
The lack of social skills to interact with others can add to the stress. For example, being away from family causes stress for children.
The good news is that social skills can be learned. It’s never too early to teach children how to get along with others. And it’s never too late to improve their skills, either. Start with the most basic social skills and continue to work on your child’s skills over time.
Being willing to share a snack or toy with others can help children make and keep friends.
However, children between the ages of 3 and 6 are often selfish when it comes to sharing resources which come with a cost. Children may be reluctant to share half of their cookie with a friend because it means they’ll enjoy less of it. But those same children may willingly share a toy they no longer want to play with.
At age 7 or 8, children pay more attention to fairness and are more willing to share. Children who feel good about themselves are often more willing to share, and sharing helps them feel good about themselves. When children learn to share, it can boost their self-esteem.
To cooperate means to work together to achieve a common goal. Children who cooperate are respectful when others ask them to do something. They also contribute, participate, and help out.
Good cooperation skills are important to getting along successfully in a community. Your child needs to cooperate with his or her classmates on the playground as well as in the classroom. Cooperation is also important as an adult.
At about age 3 1/2, young children can begin to work with their peers toward a common goal. For children, cooperation can mean anything from building a toy tower together to playing a game that requires everyone to join in. Cooperation also involves children learning to fight back when something does not go their way. Children learn that celebrating another person’s success does not diminish their own worth.
When it comes to cooperation and collaboration, some children may take a leadership position while others find it easier to follow directions.
A listening ear
Listening is not just about being quiet – it means really taking in what someone else is saying. Listening is also an important component of healthy communication. After all, much of learning in school depends on a child’s ability to listen to what the teacher is saying.
Taking in the material, taking notes, and thinking about what being said is become more important as your child progresses in school. By giving your child many opportunities to practice listening, you can strengthen this skill.
Listening is also an important part of developing empathy. A child cannot show compassion or support others if he or she does not first listen and understand what the other person is saying.
It is important that your child grows up knowing how to listen to their boss, romantic partner, and friends. This skill can take some skill in the age of digital devices. Point out to your children early on that smartphone and other devices should not be used when they are having a conversation.
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Children who find it difficult to follow instructions face a range of consequences. From having to repeat homework to getting in trouble for bad behavior, not following instructions can be a big problem.
Whether you’re instructing your kids to clean their room or telling them how to improve their soccer skills, it’s important that kids are able to follow directions.
However, before you can expect your child to follow directions well, you must become good at giving directions yourself. To give good instructions and avoid common mistakes, follow these strategies.
Give a young child one instruction at a time. Instead of saying, “Pick up your shoes, put away your books, and wash your hands,” wait until the shoes are picked up before giving the next command.
Avoid phrasing your instructions as a question. Asking, “Will you please pick up your toys now?” implies that your children have the opportunity to say no. Once you’ve given your children an instruction, ask them to repeat what you’ve said. Ask, “What’re you supposed to do now?” and wait for them to explain what they heard you say.
Remember that mistakes are normal. It’s normal for young children to get distracted, act impulsively, or forget what they’re supposed to do. Look at each mistake as an opportunity to improve their skills.
Respecting personal space
Some children are very talkative. Others crawl into the laps of acquaintances without suspecting that they are uncomfortable. It is important to teach children to respect other people’s personal space.
Establish household rules that encourage children to respect others’ personal space. “Knock on closed doors” and “Keep your hands to yourself” are just a few examples.
If your child snatches things out of other people’s hands or pushes them when impatient, use consequences. If your child stands too close to others during a conversation, use this as a teachable moment.
Take your child aside and tutor them on personal space. As your child gets older, you can talk to him or her about the concept of boundaries – both setting boundaries for yourself and respecting the boundaries of others.
Make eye contact
Good eye contact is an important part of communication. Some children find it difficult to look at their conversation partners. Whether your child is shy and prefers to stare at the floor or simply doesn’t look up when engrossed in another activity, emphasize the importance of good eye contact.
If your child has difficulty with eye contact, you can quickly remind him or her after the fact. Ask in a gentle voice, “Where do you want your eyes to go when someone is talking to you?” You don’t want to add to a shy child’s anxiety. And praise your child when he notices that he’s looking at people when they talk.
Manners are important
Good table manners and saying please and thank you can help your child gain attention for the right reasons. A well-mannered child will be respected by teachers, other parents, and other kids.
Teaching manners can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. All kids will occasionally let their manners slip, from burping loudly at the table to acting ungratefully. Kids should, however, know how to be polite and respectful, especially when they’re in other people’s homes or at school.
A healthcare provider should be consulted if your child seems to be struggling with social skills more than other children. A lack of social skills may just require a little more reinforcement and maturity, but it can also indicate other problems.
The social development of children with mental health issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism may be delayed. A physician can assess your child’s social skills and determine whether treatment is necessary.
Also read: TOP 7 STUDY TIPS FOR STUDENTS