Social skills play an integral role in defining success in the various aspects in your child’s life. As parents, what could be more fulfilling than seeing our kids thrive in any given place and situation? Teaching them social skills at a young age not only equips them to enjoy better relationships, but it also lays the foundation that they need as they grow into adulthood.
A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Public Health states that a child’s social and emotional skills in kindergarten might be the biggest predictor of success in adulthood. This is why it’s critical to teach social skills during a child’s formative years.
While some people may seem more sociable than others, having social skills is not simply a way of being. It’s a part of life that can come in handy in many aspects. And as with any life skills, social skills can be taught, learned and refined as we grow older. There are plenty of social skills out there but here are five essential social skills for kids that you can start with right now.
Manners are taught and children learn through imitating what they see. As a parent, make yourself a role model by expressing good manners at all times. It can go a long way for your child. Start with always using the words “please” and “thank you” around your children. The results may not be instant. You may need to do a few reminders here and there and offer praise when you catch them being polite.
In time, it’ll be a hard-to-break habit once they pick up on using those polite expressions in their daily interactions.
You can also teach your child how to be polite in social situations by being respectful in other people’s homes or in school. Eating meals together is a good place to teach table manners. It’s a gradual process that needs to be consistent, but teaching them good manners can deliver a positive impact on your child’s social well-being.
Living in a digital age makes it more difficult to pay attention for extended periods. This makes listening a valued skill that must be imparted on our kids.
Healthy communication requires listening, which means really absorbing and understanding what the other person is saying. It’s important in maintaining relationships, taking instructions and comprehending the knowledge that the teacher discusses in school. Remind your child that listening also means not talking over nor interrupting when someone speaks.
As a parent, you can practice your child’s listening skills by making your storybook time interactive. Periodically ask your child about the scene you just read, have them tell the story in their own words and help them out if needed then continue reading as they listen.
Being able to take direction and follow instructions sets children up for success. This goes along with listening and is also one of the most essential social skills for kids.
During their early childhood, you may start to teach your child this skill by giving them simple and clear instructions. You may do so effectively by giving out the instructions one at a time. Children are overwhelmed by too many things so let them do it one step at a time. Give your directions and wait for them to finish doing the task before giving out another one.
It’s important to give instructions in a pleasant tone but avoid phrasing your requests as a question. Take out the option of saying no by stating your directions plainly. Kids can be easily distracted so remind them by having them explain the task they are supposed to be doing. As with any skill, this takes practice so be patient.
In different stages during childhood, kids’ willingness to share things with others evolves. At two, children can already express their desire to share when they have enough for themselves. Beginning age three, however, kids are often selfish, thinking they won’t get more for themselves if they share. At seven, children become more concerned with being fair thus sharing won’t be so much of a problem.
As a parent, making an effort to praise sharing when you see your child do it helps a lot. You can’t force your child to share their food or toys with others all the time. But making sure to let them know the value of sharing and how it makes others feel can encourage your kids to share more. Knowing they made someone delighted makes them feel good inside. Kids who feel good about themselves would, in turn, be more willing to share. Not only does the act of sharing allow your kids to make and maintain friendships, but it also helps boost their sense of well-being.
Being able to work as part of a team is a valued social skill. Whether it’s for kids who are starting to interact with other children or adults, where teamwork is expected to achieve a common goal. In any person’s life, it’s important to learn how to get along with others in order to thrive in social situations.
At home, you can start to teach your child cooperation in simple ways such as assigning a household chore that’s important for the family. Playing games that encourage teamwork is also another way to emphasize the importance of cooperation. It is in these tasks where kids learn about themselves and how they function within a certain group. Some may rise up as leaders while some may be good with executing tasks. Either way, these tasks offer a great opportunity to instill cooperation as an important social skill for kids.
As parents, having the commitment and the right strategies to teach our kids these social skills can help them become successful in their personal, emotional, social and academic lives.
Give your little one the best early childcare they deserve and send them to a school that doesn’t just teach them the essential social skills, but shapes them into better and more responsible adults. Please feel free to visit The Pillars Christian Learning Center for more information.