Your little ones face many challenges the day they open their eyes in this material world.
Developing social skills and interacting with the world around them play a critical part in their success, happiness, and something as essential as academics.
So what does social skills mean?
Let’s take a look!
Understanding social skills
Social skills as the word ‘social’ indicates is about the an individual and those around them — interact with others, have self-control, display empathy, communicate, acknowledge others’ views, listening, etc.
Some of the everday situtations can be interacting with strangers, starting a conversation, being responsible for one’s own behaviour, making friends (and keeping them too), dealing with uncomfortable situations, teasing, bullying, awkwardness or unpopularity, bonding, interacting, accepting and finding acceptance, and giving compliments, etc.
Some kids are naturally more socially-adept than others.
Nevertheless, socialising is an art one is mastering every single day of growing up.
Why social skills are important
Imagine a social situation at a new school or even a preschool, your child has avenues to interact with their peers and other adults. There is a need for them to express themselves by moving out of their comfort zone.
This is an essential aspect of developing social skills. When a child develops strong social skills from a young age, the impacts are visible all through their life.
- understands social cues and boundaries
- maintains positive interactions
- has better self regulation
- sustains long term friendships
- understands empathy firsthand
- has stronger negotiation skills
- is more confident
- is open to face and new challenges
- improves their analytical and logical reasoning
- expresses through and comprehends verbal and non-verbal communication
More importantly, your child’s social skills are a strong indicator of their success in later life, whether it is in the academic, professional, or personal aspects.
Therefore, it becomes immensely important for us parents to teach kids to pick up social skills.
5 Ways to improve social skills in kids
1. Encourage eye-contact
When talking to somebody, encourage your children to look into their eyes and talk for effective communication and to build confidence. Your toddlers may need to practice every day to master this art.
Try games like ‘staring contest,’ tell your children to talk to their soft toys, or tell you stories looking into your eyes.
2. Teach them emotions
Let your children imitate a variety of emotions — joy, anger, disappointment, excitement, mischief, weirdness, nervousness, tiredness, terror, danger, etc.
Play ‘identify the emotion’ game by making faces or holding placards of different smiley.
This helps them differentiate emotions and express better, and not get confused when mingling with other kids or people.
“To teach them emotions, it is important that you also communicate to your kids what makes you happy and sad, so when they misbehave I make a straight face and tell them up front that I am upset,” shares Anita, a proud mother of two boys.
3. Make them communicate
Verbal or non-verbal, your children should learn to express, interact, and respond to social stimulus.
Help your children learn appropriate greetings and responses.
Kids may need help or guidance to interact with others appropriately, to overcome shyness, to manage a response, and express true feelings.
Let your children know that they are free to talk, ask, question, and communicate their needs, desires, beliefs and ideas.
As parents and grandparents, talk to them every day and make generous use of words like ‘please,’ ‘let’s,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘common,’ etc.
4. Give them the environment
A lonely child may have difficulty in interacting with the world.
Give your children good company, exposure, and chances to interact with different types of people.
Kids with social skill deficits often have trouble reading expressions and interacting socially.
So activities that get them more comfortable with these situations are a great idea.
Playschools, hobby classes, playgrounds, sports activities, etc., will give them a chance to socialise.
When kids mingle with other kids or elders, they develop a range of interpersonal skills that become the foundation of their personality.
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5. Prepare them for higher social skills
A child who can communicate and express themselves fearlessly is armed to face the challenges when they grow up to tackle complex situations.
Let your children maintain good communication channels, and pick up skills like negotiation, conflict resolution, non-verbal communication, assertiveness, bargaining, public-speaking, etc.
“My seven-year-old can write emails to his dad, I am glad they have discovered a new means to interact,” says Neha B, a homemaker.
RELATED: 10 Things Not To Say To Your Child
Conclusion: Social skills matter!
Social skills are also known as soft skills and matter the most in interpersonal situations and an individual’s own characteristics.
Children are shy to newer situations and people, which is all right.
They just need the confidence to navigate through any situation where social skills play an essential part.
Remember that each child is different and interacts with the world around them differently!
You can gently nudge your child and be there biggest cheerleader in developing a stronger social understanding.
Share your ideas on how to make your children more socially accepted. How can you improve their social skills?
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