For those of us in Victoria and New South Wales (aka lockdown nation) socialising is something we have been forced to distance from on and off for the last 18+ months. The problem is, we are social creatures made for a social world. And “freedom day” is just around the corner, therefore it is up to us to help our children re-develop social skills. For kids, this might mean they need our guidance and support as they re-navigate the world of inter-personal skills. This could also be a good oppourtunity for us big people to brush up too!
How to Encourage Social Skills
Social skills help us to work in the world we live in. They underpin our interactions, our opinions and view of ourselves and help us to get ahead.
Social skills don’t come naturally to many children. This advice should be considered as a rough guide only. For more targeted support, please contact your GP for a referral to a professional who will be able to provide tailored advice.
Lots of children learn through games. Make the promotion of social skills in your home as fun and engaging as possible. Ask them to work with you to develop their own styles of communication and teach them how we interact with others.
An activity might be playing shop. Set up a small store using toys in your home and ask your children to play the role of both the shop owner and the customer. Watch them understand how language and interaction shape and change depending on the circumstance.
The local playground can be a great place for children to work on their social skills. For kids, this can be the first real place that they interact with other children their own age so you must help guide them. Your children will look to you. If they see you pleasantly interacting, guiding and encouraging others then they are likely to follow suit. Be aware, though, that everyone develops at a different rate and sometimes activities like sharing might be beyond your child’s current developmental level.
Remember, your child’s eyes are always on you. Take them with you when you are shopping or visiting a friend, COVID rules notwithstanding. Model behaviour for them – politeness, sharing and letting other people take turns. Bring these skills into your own home and be conscious of the very real influence that you have on their behaviour.
Finally, work with your professional team. If your child is in early childhood care, talk to their educators about how they are going in terms of developing their social skills. Take note of what these professionals have to say and trust their judgement. Taking on advice from teachers objectively can make the difference when it comes to judging how best to promote social skills for your own kids.
Every child is different and develops at their own pace. Try to put your expectations to the side and work with your child to figure out how best to promote social skills in an appropriate and peaceful way.