Developing social skills in our child
Social skills are so important: we need them to be able to make friends, communicate, cooperate and function well in any society.
Again, success starts at home so there is a lot you can do at home to develop good social skills in your children:
- Start with rules: having rules is a good place to start because it teaches our children about social manners and expectations. CLICK here to learn how to create and implement rules. When you set up rules together, you can talk about the basics of good manners and kindness. You can ask them how they like to be treated in school, at their friends’ houses and while they are at clubs or activities. You can talk about what a good friend is and how to apply these qualities to their own friendships or groups they are part of.
- Support their interests: try to find activities that involve social interaction and trigger their interest: sports, drama, choir, etc. Once you have found your child’s ‘thing’, make sure you support it, maybe stay to watch, and ask if they had fun. Don’t make it about being the best but about having fun and interacting with others. CLICK here to read ‘Sport needs to be fun’.
- Role-play at home: learn to ask questions and practise active listening. This can be hard if you have an only child, but then you can get involved and talk about how it feels to be listened to. Talk about how we listen and then role-play it. Again, make sure you are a role model: don’t interrupt the child, and show that you are listening even though you might not agree (or even like) what your child is saying.
- You can talk about your day and the child has to come up with questions about your day. You can talk about how it feels when people ask questions when they talk.
- Role-play different social scenarios and offer praise and positive reinforcement. You can role-play scenarios that they have found difficult such as joining in with other children at the playground, how to take turns and wait etc.
- Teach empathy and emotion regulation: you can talk about how they can offer help and support to someone who is sad. You can ask if they think someone is sad in school, how might they be able to help i.e., asking them to join in a game etc.
- Teach emotion regulation: anger and deep emotions can really get in the way of socialising. They can make us and our children do and say things that really don't help the situation, i.e. hit, run away, say silly or mean things etc. So try to work on your child’s emotional regulation. CLICK here to watch this video about ‘managing a child's anger and big emotions’.
- Role model: we can show as well as tell them how to socialise. When you are with your family, you can be part of taking turns and waiting. You can show that you are willing to listen and offer support when they are sad. And, if you have a partner, make sure you set the scene and atmosphere at home and show them how people treat each other with respect, kindness, and empathy. Do you talk nicely to each other and to your friends? Are you supportive of your partner, friends, and family? Remember, success starts at home.
I wish you and your child a great school year, and if you need more support, I am here to help.