How to Improve Your Child’s Social Skills
- What are Social Skills? -
Social skills are the ability to communicate with and understand other people, both verbally and non-verbally.
Why are Social Skills Important?
The importance of social skills cannot be stressed enough, and without teaching and developing these it can be difficult for children to make friends or work well with other children at home, nursery, school or anywhere else they come into contact with others. These social skills include being able to listen and understand, as well as being able to talk and be understood.
Conversations are two sided and are all about taking turns. One person speaks while the other listens, and they keep swapping. You can see this turn-taking in babies, when a parent talks to an infant and they babble back.
This video (right) shows an adorable ‘conversation’ between two babies, and is a perfect example of communication without language
For slightly more complex conversations than this, language obviously has a bigger role in social skills!
As the phrase goes, practise makes perfect. There’s no better way for a child to learn and develop than through play, because it’s something they can get so easily absorbed in. Here are some play ideas to get children of every age practising their social skills
How to Develop Social Skills by Age group
Talking to your baby can get them used to taking turns, and familiarise them with speech and language. When they smile and babble back, respond positively, in a cheerful voice, to encourage them. Singing and music are also good for listening skills.
Children of this age will be more interested in playing on their own, so will need a bit of adult guidance to play together or share.
Short stories and repetitive songs can improve their communication skills, as can role-play that encourages talking, such as playing with a toy phone.
As they start to play together, children will learn the importance of sharing and playing fair. There can be a big difference between how well children can share, but it is better to let them work it out between themselves whenever possible.
Pretend play is very popular at this age and is ideal for improving social skills. Simple turn taking games and shared toys, e.g. large kitchen sets, sand/water play tables, can get children playing together too.
5 to 8 Year Olds
Pretend play will still be a great way to develop social skills at this age. Children will also be able to pay attention for longer and follow instructions, so board games become more enjoyable. These are perfect for getting children playing together, and learning how to think about each other’s feelings when they win or lose.
9 to 11 Year Olds
At this age children can get more competitive, so team sports are fantastic for learning to work together or even lead a group, or be led by others. Friends are really important to children by now, so activities they can do together, like arts and crafts, are also a good way to encourage social skills.
Categorised in: Child development
This post was written by Anna Taylor