Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Child’s Social Skills

As children grow older and interact with more and more people, it’s important to foster the growth of their social skills. As they grow and mature, children begin to develop a wider range of emotions, so it is important to teach them how to deal with these new feelings, and other children as well. A study by Jones, Greenberg and Crowley in 2015 showed that children with well-developed social skills at a young age reported strong well-being around the age of 25. The study linked well-being to the rates of completion of High School, ability to secure employment and low activity in criminal aspects or substance abuse. Fostering social skills at an early age can not only aid in the emotional development of your child but can also help to create a stable and successful future for them.

How do you teach your child social skills?

1. Teach them problem solving skills. Having social skills isn’t just about learning how to share but knowing how to solve a problem fairly when multiple people are involved. When someone wants to play with their toy, children often start crying and raising their voice as they become upset or frustrated. Instead of stepping in to solve their problem for them, have the children attempt to solve their issue themselves. You can facilitate this process by asking them “what would be fair?” and “would you like to take it in turns or play together?”By including them in the process, they begin to understand how to problem solve, and will eventually be able to sort out their issues fairly on their own.

2. Encourage assertiveness. Teaching your child to be assertive in social situations is more than just saying “no”. It involves building up their character, confidence and sense of self, so that they’re able to stand up for themselves and what’s right. Allow them to engage in meaningful, age-appropriate decision making to strengthen their sense of self and teach them to respond to difficult situations with fairness. Teaching them responses such as “I’m still playing, but I’m happy to give it to you when I’m done” shows them that their feelings are valid, as well as their playmate’s feelings.

3. Link experiences with emotions. From the age of three, children start to develop a lot of different emotions, including embarrassment and jealousy. Situations can get out of hand when children are unsure of how to deal with these new emotions. Give words to the emotions your child is feelings with responses such as “I know you’re sad that you can’t have this toy” to give your child a chance to link emotions with words and situations. Once they start recognising their emotions, they can learn how to control their feelings and recognise when others are feeling that way, too.

4. Encourage them to be helpful. Give your child opportunities to be helpful around the house or to others. This fosters their ability to empathise with others and teaches them to be aware of their surroundings and the people in it. You can start by showing your child what being helpful looks like. For example, thank the people around you that are helping such as the store assistant or the postman. By showing your child what a ‘helper’ looks like, it will give them the confidence to start doing helpful things on their own.

Encourage your child to recognise what they’re feeling and how to be fair to others. Once they’ve learnt how to handle themselves, they can help other playmates feel better, too! Not only will it help them navigate through their childhood easier, but it’ll ensure their future is bright and successful!

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