How to Help A Child with Their Social Skills

child development children Aug 01, 2018

by editorial team


Do you know how to help your child with their social skills? As a parent, you have a unique opportunity to teach your child social skills even adults struggle with, like building friendships, managing conflict, and handling rejection.


Benefits of Developing Social Skills Early

Developing social skills early is a critical part of your child’s future happiness.

Adolescents who have strong social skills are more likely to be accepted by their peers, develop friendships, be viewed as effective problem solvers and perform better academically. It is the foundation for success in all areas of life!


How to Help A Child with Their Social Skills

Skills that all children should learn

While some children will always be more outgoing than others, it's helpful for all children to learn basic social skills.

According to the University of Memphis, “following directions, holding a proper conversation, listening, giving compliments, proper behavior during transition times, teasing, bullying, or just "hanging out" with friends” are skills that children of all ages can learn.

The goal is not to make your child into a social butterfly, but to help them form meaningful bonds with other people, interact with others in an appropriate way, and know how to handle uncomfortable social situations.

Social skills for preschool and elementary school kids

Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that these skills are essential to have for elementary school children:

  • Listening to others

  • Following the steps

  • Following the rules

  • Ignoring distractions

  • Asking for help

  • Taking turns when you talk

  • Getting along with others

  • Staying calm with others

  • Being responsible for your behavior

  • Doing nice things for others

These are fundamental skills and behaviors that will help your child succeed in a world that values social interaction, and will help them build more advanced social skills later on.

Skills for pre-teens and teens

As social interactions get more complex, your child’s social skills may need to increase.

According to James Windell, teens can increase their social and emotional intelligence, if they learn how to:

  • Set personal goals

  • Identify and change self-defeating behaviors

  • Be assertive about their needs

  • Have feelings for others

  • Handle anger constructively

  • Resolve conflicts peacefully


Tips for Parents

Easier said than done, right? Here is how you can help your child develop appropriate social skills at any age.

Model positive social skills

Your children may not always listen to what you say, but they are always watching what you do. Show confidence, be friendly to strangers and treat your child with respect, no matter how badly they are behaving at any given moment.

Don’t label your child as “shy”

Labeling your child as “shy” has the potential to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, acknowledge their feelings and show them how they can overcome their fears.

Give them opportunities to practice

Supporting and encouraging your child's' friendships is very important. In addition to driving them to dance practice and organizing playdates, you can let your children practice their social skills in a digital environment.


Final Thoughts

Helping your child develop social skills throughout their life can be a critical part of your child’s happiness. Limiting their time on technology so that they have plenty of real-life experiences to develop social skills is key. They will learn more from what they witness than from what you tell them, so being mindful of what you model and being present and available to discuss what else your children see is valuable in developing versatile social skills.

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