Social skills determine the ease of interacting with other people easily and having healthy relations with family, friends, colleagues and other people. Children often face difficulties and challenges in socializing with other children especially if their parents have not taught them the essential social skills they need while growing up. So, here are some tips to consider when teaching your child essential social skills. (See other parenting related advice)
1. Study your child’s behavioral patterns
How does your child behave in the presence of other children? Does he/she seem over anxious or excessively sensitive in the presence of other children? Access their level of thinking to determine how they feel about expressing themselves to other people. This helps in forming a basis and a foundation of the essential social skills to teach your child depending on their behavioral patterns.
Before you embark on teaching these skills to your child, you need to completely eliminate or reduce any sensory triggers they may have. Additionally, you should also calm their anxiety so that they feel free and open minded to meeting new people.
2. Teach your child about different personalities
Social skills go hand in hand with the realization and understanding of different personalities. It is quite hard for children to interact and socialize with others freely if they do not understand that people have different personalities. This will make it easy for them to interact freely with their peers in a more appropriate manner and be in a better position to interpret social interactions.
3. Practice role-playing with the kid
After the child has understood the different personalities that exist, you should put him/her to task to test their social responses upon interacting with different personalities. You can take up the role of a new person with different personalities to see how well your child will interact with the personalities. The most beneficial thing about role-playing is that it provides you with first-hand information on how refined your child’s social skills are.
4. Be patient
Teaching social skills to your child is not a one-day thing like most people presume it to be. At times, it can even take weeks stretching into months before your child learns and starts using the social skills you will teach them.
As such, you need to be very patient and let your child take as much time as they practice how to use the skills you have taught them. Avoid getting frustrated or irritated when your child seems to be slow to learn but encourage them to keep practicing what you teach them. Express love towards them so that they see that you appreciate and acknowledge the steps they are making.
5. Reward them
Rewards and other forms of appreciation like gifts go a long way in motivating and encouraging the child to improve their interactions and relations with other people. Rewards also send a message to your child that you appreciate their efforts and the progress they are making.
There are different forms of rewards you can give your child including tokens, dinner dates, additional allowance, and other items of their liking. In whichever way you decide to encourage them, you should always aim for one thing: to motivate them to learn and improve their social skills.
6. Keep the lessons short and fun
When teaching essential social skills to your child, you should be sure to keep the lessons short and fun. This is because children are not able to comprehend long and “serious” lessons in the same way adults would. If possible, you can incorporate fun activities like playing games, reading stories, and other fun activities when teaching these skills to your child.
The importance of keeping these lessons fun is that it makes it easy for your child to feel comfortable and free within different groups of people and environment.
7. Break the lessons down
There are very many and complex social skills that your child needs to be aware of. As such, you should break down the lessons into small bits that are easy to understand and comprehend for the child. The lessons should be simple and easy to learn.
If possible, you can simplify the lessons to sequential bits that will help the child understand the skills with great ease. It is advisable that you ensure that the child has perfectly understood one skill before progressing to the next one.
8. Expose your child to different social environments
The most efficient way of testing your child’s social skills is by exposing them to different social environments and situations. This helps in providing the child with a real experience of how it feels to socialize and interact with other people freely.
You do not have to necessarily expose your child to environments with his peers only but can instead introduce them to older groups to see how well they can fit in. When your child is in the presence of adults, do not expect him/her to relate to them like an adult but rather have realistic expectations like how he/she behaves.
This will make it possible and easy for your kid to feel at peace with him/herself while in a crowd.
9. Teach them how to be confident in the presence of other people
Confidence goes a long way in enabling children to interact and associate with other people.
While your kids may not be conscious of their looks, it is necessary to help him feel confident of himself by praising him for his looks, intelligence and ability to be friendly with other people. When your child knows and feels that you are confident of them, it is possible for them to express themselves freely without fear of being judged by others.
10. Avoid criticizing or lecturing the child
Children are not able to take criticism positively. Therefore, you should not criticize your child thinking that they will take such criticism positively.
Usually, children tend to get turned off by criticism and may become less confident of themselves thereby being unable to express themselves freely. Lecturing and criticism have the same effects in children and may emotionally damage a child.
Social skills play an important role in determining success in life than grades and academic success. As such, parents should not underestimate the need and importance of teaching these skills to their children.
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