- 6 mins
Teaching Social Skills to Kids
Maleki, et al. (2019) writes that the social skills children learn during their preschool years are the basics of their future success. That means we, as parents, should be doing everything we can to support our kids in building valuable social skills even from a young age.
Perhaps now more than ever, we are seeing children of different ages who have difficulty with social interaction, and struggle to follow instructions and participate in group activities. Whether this is a result of the pandemic and many people being isolated for long periods of time, we don’t know for sure, but it is certain that we need to put in some more effort to teach our children the social skills that would set them up for success.
It may sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are three simple things you can do at home to support your child, regardless of age, in building social skills.
3 Ways to Help Build Social Skills for Kids
Talk to your child
Chat to them about their day, their favorite game, or something fun that they did at school. You may even hear about something that happened at school that they didn’t like or a classmate that got into trouble. Listen when they tell you about it, without being distracted. Don’t listen to them with your phone in your other hand (because we all do that at times)…really listen.
Talk as a family
Have meals (at least some) together as a family. Leave any devices or forms of entertainment away from the meal table and chat casually. The type of conversation may be similar to when you are talking to your child individually, but during this time they are learning additional social skills. They are learning to listen to another person, wait for their turn to talk, not interrupt while someone else is talking, and even ask questions related to the topic of conversation.
It’s good to say no sometimes
It can be so tempting to buy the toy that your child sees in the shop, to ask someone else to share because your child won’t, or to give them everything they ask for right away just to avoid a tantrum. However, our kids need to learn how to share, wait their turn, and respect others and their belongings too. Say no when you need to and provide comfort and love when there are tears because you said no. Don’t beat yourself up about it, though. You are teaching your child an important life lesson.
As much as we would like to think that children will learn these skills automatically when they get older, it is, unfortunately, not necessarily the case. They need to be taught, practiced, and encouraged, but we can do that easily as part of our everyday lives.
Maleki, M., Mardani, A., Mitra Chehrzad, M., Dianatinasab, M., & Vaismoradi, M. (2019). Social Skills in Children at Home and in Preschool. Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland), 9(7), 74.