Developing social skills at a young age prepares children for healthier interactions later in life. These skills are integral to functioning in society. From communicating effectively with others and being considerate of other people’s feelings to displaying good manners and expressing personal needs, social skills consist of various components.
There are many ways to impart these skills in your children, but the effectiveness of your methods depends a lot on their age. Whatever methods you employ, keep in mind that some children are naturally more social than others. That said, here are five ways to help your kid become more social.
Facilitate social interactions with other kids
Children tend to take turns and play together, especially after they pass the toddler phase. You can encourage this behavior by organizing play dates with the neighbors’ kids every once in a while. This helps them build confidence to make friends, thus building their social skills in the process.
Rather than play with the kids, step away and only step in when absolutely necessary. Interacting on their own teaches children social overtures, empathy and other important social skills. In addition to play dates, you can also encourage your children to take walks (link to jogging strollers) in the park.
Organize backpacking trips
If you want to kill two birds with one stone i.e. get kids to love nature and be more social, organizing a hiking trip with family friends can be helpful. Get together with your mum/dad friends and convince them to bring the kids along for the adventure. It will prove a great time to bond as family and friends.
The young kids who don’t know much about the wild will not only gain an appreciation for nature, but will also learn a lot about socializing. From asking and answering questions to recognizing when others are tired or having empathy for those who’re injured, there are plenty of social skills to be learned in the wild. Consider bringing along a backpacking baby carrier if your child is too young to walk for long.
Teach non-verbal skills
While it may not seem like it, watching kid-friendly shows can go a long way towards teaching your kids non-verbal social cues. Try watching while the sound is muted and let the children guess what certain movements might imply. However, ensure that your children don’t watch TV too much. Get them to predict what the characters will say by keenly observing their facial expressions. You can also make collages with various facial expressions and look through magazines. Get together with the kids and try to guess what the people in those photos are saying or feeling.
Help a child express themselves
It is easy for children to get frustrated and confused by their own emotions, especially if they don’t know how to express them. Keeping their emotions locked up inside can lead to them screaming, shouting or even blaming others for their frustrations. That said, it is utterly important that parents teach kids how to express their emotions.
For instance, taking a deep breath and counting to ten can make saying what they need to say easier. Whether at school, home or in the playground, it is important that children know how to express their wants and needs. Techniques like raising their hand can prove helpful. Don’t forget to assert the importance of politeness when expressing their emotions.
Part of being able to socialize with others involves the ability to stay on point. To teach your child to have a longer attention span, start by picking a topic and say 2-3 sentences about it – one random and two related to the said topic. Let’s say that the topic you pick is your family dog. Say a few things about the dog and then one random thing about the weather. Once you’re done, ask your child to differentiate between the things you talked about.
You can ask him/her to keep track of how many times conversation topics change during dinner. This goes a long way towards reinforcing this skill because to be able to answer your questions afterwards, they need to remember what was talked about during dinner. This can only be achieved if the child was attentive to the conversations throughout the meal.
There are plenty of ways to instill social skills in children and some of them are more difficult than others. And while it isn’t the easiest task, this post gives a few ideas that will prove useful to your course. You can always consult other parents to see what works for them and if it can help you.