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 will be a critical part of their success and happiness, even more important than their academic results. Are you ready to help them develop the desired social skills?
For example: talking effectively, interacting with strangers, starting a conversation, listening, getting along, being responsible for their behaviour, making friends (and keeping them too), dealing with uncomfortable situations, teasing, bullying, awkwardness or unpopularity, bonding, interacting, accepting and finding acceptance, empathizing, 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. Teaching your children pick up social skills and communicate well is a big task for parents. Here’s help:
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 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 upfront 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.
5. Prepare them for higher social skills
A child who can communicate and express himself/herself fearlessly is armed to face the challenges when he/she grows 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.
Share your ideas on how to make your children more socially accepted. How can you improve their social skills?
*The featured photo source: Lili Vieira de Carvalho
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