Social skills are so important in our everyday lives, which is why you as a parent need to help your child develop theirs. They will need to be able to interact with other children at school and make friends, and when they get older, they will need to be able to interact with people at work and in all sorts of other situations. Children that do not develop good social skills early on are far more likely to be shy and withdrawn as they get older, and that makes life very difficult for them. Feelings of anxiety in social situations can really hold a person back, and poor social skills can even affect your own relationship with your child.
Some parents believe that these social skills will develop naturally when children are put in situations like playdates or school, and although that is true to an extent, it is important that you make a conscious effort to help them be more social. These are some of the most effective ways to help your child develop good social skills.
Improve Your Own Social Skills
Children imitate their parents behavior more than we often realize and if you are a particularly shy person yourself, it is likely that your child will struggle to develop social skills. They will pick up on it if you are uncomfortable and quiet in other situations. For example, when you pick them up from school, do you speak with the other parents and get on with them or do you wait in the car on your own until your child comes out? Small interactions like this shape the way that your child learns about the world and if you are not social, they are not likely to be either.
If this is the case, it is important that you first try to develop your own social skills. This can be difficult, especially for older people, and you may feel a lot of anxiety in social situations. But it benefits you and your child if you are willing to put yourself out there more and try to be a more social person. This will rub off on your child and you will notice that their social skills improve as well.
Play Make Believe
All kids play make believe and we tend to think of it as just a bit of fun, but it also has a very important developmental function as well. When kids play make believe and pretend to be other characters that are all interacting with one another, they are learning how to be social. This naturally carries over into everyday life and they will find it easier to socialize with a wide range of different people, so you need to encourage this kind of play as much as you can. Get involved and play make believe with them, and buy them toys like dressing up kits that encourage make believe even further. Even if you feel a little silly doing it, it’s a great way to bond with your kids and help their social development at the same time.
Get A Pet
There are so many great benefits to owning a pet if you have kids. It helps them to get out and exercise, it teaches them responsibility, it offers companionship, and it can also be very helpful for children that are developing their social skills. There are certain breeds of dog that are very social, like Goldendoodles, for example. You can find miniature Goldendoodles for sale from reliable breeders and they are perfect as a family pet. They are not too big, so your child can safely play with them, and they are incredibly social and playful, so they will help your child to develop their social skills very easily. If your kids have been begging you to get a dog for ages, maybe you should listen to them.
Play Social Games
We all spend a lot of time staring at screens these days, so sometimes, it’s nice to take a break and get out some board games for a bit of quality family time. Board games can be a great learning opportunity for kids, so they are always a good choice for family activities. They can also help with social development in a big way. There are a lot of great board games that rely on teamwork and collaboration, and sometimes role play and acting. Things like charades, for example, is a classic game that helps people to get out of their comfort zone and be social. Board games are such an effective way to help your child develop their social skills while also having some fun.
Encourage Their Interests
It is important that your child is able to interact with people from all walks of life, but when they are first starting to develop their social skills, it’s a lot easier to begin by encouraging them to be social with other kids that have similar interests. That is one of the reasons why it is so important to encourage their hobbies and interests. Things like sports, for example, are a great way for them to meet people and they will be more at ease with people that they share an interest with. It gives them common ground that they can use to kickstart a conversation and ease into the interaction with, so they will find it a lot easier to get over that initial anxiety about meeting a new person. It doesn’t have to be sports, maybe they are interested in arts and crafts or singing. Whatever their interests are, you should see whether you can find local clubs that they can get involved in where they will meet lots of like minded kids.
Encourage Them To Ask Questions
When your child is talking to somebody, they may find that conversation is stunted and they don’t know how to keep a conversation flowing. This will cause them to feel very anxious about social situations and can make them more withdrawn. But asking questions is a very simple way to keep a conversation flowing, so you should teach them this skill and encourage them to ask more complex questions that do not have a simple yes or no answer. One way that you can do this is by practicing the habit yourself. If you struggle in social situations, it will improve your social skills as well and your child will pick up on it. You should also ask your child a lot of questions when you talk to them. That way, they will understand that this is an effective way to keep conversations moving and they will start doing it themselves. This also helps to encourage general curiosity about the world, which is good because it means that they are always learning.
Practice Role Playing
Most of the tips on this list are effective ways to naturally improve your child’s social skills over time, but if they are really struggling, you may need to take a direct approach. It is important that you approach the situation carefully because if you just come out and say that they are too shy and they need to be more outgoing, that will upset them and cause them to be anxious about their social skills, which will only make things worse. But if you speak to them about how they are getting on with the other kids at school, for example, they may tell you that they are having trouble socializing.
If this is the case, you can practice role playing with them. Act out a simple conversation and see how they respond, then you can give them some helpful tips, like asking questions and making eye contact etc. This can feel a little strange but it will help your child to develop their social skills in a big way.
Learn To Accept Your Child
Even though social skills are important, some children are just more social and outgoing than others and that is fine. You do need to help them develop social skills to some extent so they are able to interact with people on a daily basis. However, you shouldn’t worry if one of your children is not as social as the rest of them because this is perfectly normal and introverted people have other important qualities. If you keep pushing them to be more social when they don’t want to, this can affect your relationship with them. They may feel that you don’t like who they are and you are trying to change them, and that is very upsetting. Learn to accept that they may not be very social and realize that as long as they are happy, that is the only thing that matters.
Learning social skills is a very important part of a child’s development and if they do not develop them early, it can make things quite difficult. These are all simple but effective ways that you can help your child to learn the social skills that they need in life. However, it is important that you recognize that some children are just not as social as others and that is fine.