Development of Social Skills in Children (With Examples)

Developing social skills

It is common knowledge that social skills are essential for success in school. It may be the most important skill needed for a child in primary school, according to teachers.[1] Social skills also impact a child’s life in adulthood. Social skills can and should be trained from young.

Development of social skills in children can begin at home.

Why are Social Skills Important?

Social skills guide how children interact and adapt to society.

Social skills are related to academic achievement and socio-emotional development. When peers do not accept a child, it takes a toll on his self-esteem and connection with others. This may make them unwilling to attend school or work hard academically.

A child may resort to aggressivesness when faced with difficulties as he lacks in social skills. This occurs when the child does not know how to regulate their behaviour. On the other hand, overly shy and reserved children may find it difficult to make friends. Both of these cases may lead to greater distance between them and their peers.

Ways to Develop Social Skills

Like any other skill, a few children may find it easier to learn social skills. Children learn through modelling, where they observe the social interactions of IMPORTANT adults in their lives. Hence, it is necessary for parents to be bearers of proper social interactions. Children learn best from their parents.

Your child may have specific social skills,which he/she lacks in. Here are a few ways by which you can help your child enhance his/her social skills:

1. Empathy

Empathy is the ability to know understand what the person feels. This process helps a person be thoughtful and kind. Your child will come across friends and strangers going through unpleasant events in life. Their reaction to these situations will impact their social connection.

While teaching your child, you may first ask him/her to suggest a fitting response to such situations by creating scenarios. For example, how will your child respond to a student who gave the wrong answer to a question in class? After hearing their response, you can discuss the solution and suggest an appropriate way to react to the situation. It might be prudent to discuss their reactions or answers instead of rejecting them so as to guide them better.

2. Taking Turns

One way to develop social skills is through play! Children pick up many skills through a game. Engaging your child in play not only builds social interaction but also strengthens the parent-child bond.

When playing with your child, you can emphasise or praise positive actions. Knowing how to take turns is a social skill. You can develop this by teaching him/her how to wait for his turn and share with others while playing with him. Such skill would enhance patience and reinforce empathy. You may also call a few friends over for a playdate to develop this social skill.

3. Holding a Conversation

Maintaining a conversation requires listening skills and excellent attention span. Children also need to learn how to find topics to talk. A common mistake that children (and even adults) make is talking about themselves when there is a pause in a conversation. They could be unaware that this may be uninteresting to the other party. Hence, turn-taking is important here as well so that the other party has a chance to add to the conversation. Turn-taking is the skill of knowing when to start and finish a turn in a conversation. A person will be more willing to converse when they are interested in the topic. Otherwise, they may avoid discussions in the future. Due to the skills needed to hold a conversation, this may be tougher for children who are more impulsive.

You can teach your child to ask questions related to the person instead. This can be a general question like, “Did you like the assembly talk by the Principal today?” By having regular two-way communication with your child,they would be able to master the art of communication in school and even in the work place.

4. Listening Skills

Social skill is learning how to adapt the tone of voice and responses according to the situation. For example, a different tone of voice is used when talking to friends as compared to teachers.  Children who are more socially adept understand that a more formal, respectful tone should be used when talking to teachers. They switch to a more casual tone among friends. Not doing so may make the child appear aloof or rude.

You can model this social skill for your children with the way you interact with different people in different situations.

Developing your child’s social skills at home is possible. Don’t worry if your child is shy and reserved or finding it hard to make friends. As parents, you can (1) rehearse scenarios that may occur, (2) give them chances to practice the skills and (3) model behaviour. While it is ideal to develop social skills early, it is never too late to improve them.


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