4 Effective Tips for Teaching your Child Social Skills
Many studies indicate that parents who are responsive and continually foster a loving relationship with their children are likely to raise socially competent children. Positive social skills are essential not just at the playground but they are also important as your children mature into adults and encounter complex peer relations. Here are 5 tips on how you can help your child to nurture valuable social skills:
1. Encourage Pals and Playmates
A good place to start when helping your children to foster social skills is to encourage them to make friends and to bring them over. A toddler may require you to deliberately organize play dates where he can meet and play with kids his age. For older kids, encourage them to spend more time playing with others rather than always playing on their own. Allow your children’s friends to come over and to play together at your place. As you help your child develop his social skills by making friends, it is important to understand and work with his personality. For example, if your 8-year-old boy is the shy type, you can arrange one on one-play dates instead of forcing him to play in a larger group.
2. Keep Talking With Your Child
Proper communication, expression of feelings and thoughts are essential social skills. A family where children are encouraged to talk, express their feelings and to openly air their opinion is likely to bring up confident children and adults. Ensure that your kids feel safe talking to you about anything and more so, about their experiences with their peers. Encourage conversations at dinnertime, ask your children how their day was, and tell them stories. Just keep the talk going in the house so your children learn good communication skills. At the same time, be a good listener and encourage them to listen to others.
3. Teach How to Solve Problems
Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., author of Smart Parenting for Smart Kids: Nurturing Your Child’s True Potential asserts that teaching social skills entails showing your child how to evaluate other people’s behaviour. Children usually end up in conflicts with their peers and other people because they misunderstood the other person’s behaviour. In teaching your child how to relate with others, encourage her to empathize and look at issues from a different perspective. ‘Why did Erika refuse to play with me?’ Could it be that she was in a bad mood, could it be that she has not forgiven me for shoving her yesterday? Could it be that she just wanted to be alone? It is also important to teach your child to focus less on the problem and more on finding solutions to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
4. Foster an Environment of Tolerance
To get along well with others, it is important to have a sense of tolerance. Teaching tolerance starts in your home and with you as a role model. Do you make discriminatory remarks about others? Do you use harsh remarks such as “I hate people who…”; do you discourage your children from playing with other children because they are “different” from them? The world, and indeed, local neighbourhoods are cosmopolitan, filled with people from different walks of life. It is important to teach your child how to accept these differences, to look beyond them and to relate courteously with people regardless of their differences.