It is never too late to teach your kids social skills. Even if you think it’s too late now, don’t get disheartened. Find a way for them to go through the struggles and hurdles of social interactions. Parenting is more than about taking care of your kids physically. You don’t just leave them in a daycare facility to let the caregivers and teachers there teach them about making friends and thriving in school. You are the first adult your kids will see. It is your responsibility, as much as it is the school’s, to help them improve their social skills.
There is a tendency to assume that kids learn about social skills during their preschool days when they first meet their classmates. The truth is that it’s more than that. Enrolling them in an early childhood development class will certainly help them develop the skills needed to socialize. Many of these programs are designed to foster interaction, camaraderie, teamwork, and tolerance. But even before kids step into these kinds of settings, they are already taking with them what they have learned at home.
Teach your kids how to express their emotions through words. Far too many times, kids will cry or throw a tantrum when they are angry or feeling frustrated. Encourage them to voice these feelings. At an early age, teach them to differentiate happiness, sadness, frustration, and even anger. Once they know how to verbalize their feelings, it becomes easier to cope with them.
Children as young as two should already make eye contact when speaking with others, whether kids or adults. That’s why they must not be allowed to always be on their iPads, because they will never learn eye contact this way. Once they are five years old, they should say “please,” “thank you,” and “sorry.” These words might seem simple, but it will take time before kids can learn how to use them appropriately.
It is also crucial for kids to learn how different communicating is with children and with adults. They should be respectful of adults, for example. They should also never interfere when two or more adults are talking.
Kids have to learn how to listen and not just talk. You can start by whispering one or two words and making them repeat these words. Soon, they will be able to repeat three or more sentences. While they need to develop speaking, it’s also critical that they learn how to listen. One of the most important activities that they will do in school is to take turns talking about their weekends. Kids will need to listen while other kids speak, regardless of how slow or shy they are.
Being in a Group
During the coronavirus outbreak, the biggest problem for parents was how to teach their kids to function in a group. Parents with two or more children have it easier, but those with an only child have to make an extra effort in this regard. Children should learn how to function in a group because this will help them in the future.
Unknown to them, they are emulating the actions of other children as they work on the tasks assigned to them. At first, they aren’t working together but side by side. It will then become easier for them to collaborate when they are comfortable being in a group.
Children have to learn about compassion at an early age. They should know that they shouldn’t laugh when someone is hurt or in pain. They should even ask that person if they are all right. You can teach this to your kids by pretending to be hurt and asking them to take care of you. You can teach them about conflict resolution, too, because this will help them deal with conflicts constructively once they are adults.
Just as important as verbal skills are nonverbal skills. Help them read facial expressions and body language. One of the best ways to do this is to mute the television and let the kids observe the characters. Afterward, ask them if they can tell how the characters are feeling. Are they happy, sad, angry, or scared? This will help them learn about social cues.
Schools help children with improving their social skills. But parents are also in a critical position to help them navigate the challenges of social interactions. Starting them early will help achieve the needed social skills once they are ready to mingle with kids their own age or even those older than them.