9 ways to boost social skills in children
When your child has grown up a bit and is ready for his or her foray into society, it is essential that they have friends to share these precious moments with. After all, man is a social animal. Friends help your child become socially adept and confident. Throughout our evolutionary history, the ability to make friends has been a crucial survival skill. But friendly nature and social skills may not ‘just emerge’ during your child’s development.
Children need to be taught how to make friends and sustain friendships, making it essential for parents to guide them on their every step in these early times. Here are a few pointers which could help-
1. Train your children in emotion control-
Everybody has negative emotions and selfish impulses. Studies suggest that children develop better emotional self-control when their parents talk to them about their feelings in a sympathetic, problem-solving way.
In contrast, kids whose negative emotions are usually trivialized (‘You’re just being silly’) or punished (‘Go to your room and cool off’) tend to have more trouble with self- control
2. Practice authoritative (not authoritarian) parenting-
Kids are more likely to be rejected by their peers when their parents practice authoritarian parenting –an approach characterized by low levels of warmth and high levels of control. Authoritarian parents discourage thoughtful discussion and attempt to control behaviour through punishment. Kids raised this way are less likely to develop an internalized sense of right and wrong.
3. Teach kids how to converse in a polite way-
The earliest lessons kids learn about communication happen at home, and it seems they make a difference. It has been found that parents who showed high levels of reciprocity in their communication with children had kids who developed more social competence and better negotiation skills.
• Trade information about your likes and dislikes while starting a new conversation
• Don’t be a conversation hog. When engaged in conversation, only answer the question at hand. Then give your partner a chance to talk, or ask a question of your own
• Don’t be an interviewer. Don’t just ask questions. Offer information about yourself too
6. Coach kids on how to cope with tricky social situations-
• Before making your approach, watch what the other kids are doing. What can you do to fit in?
• Try joining the game by doing something relevant. For example, if kids are playing a restaurant game, see if you can become a new customer
• Don’t be disruptive or critical or try to change the game
• If the other kids don’t want you to join in, don’t try to force it. Just back off and find something else to do
7. Monitor their social life-
Studies in a variety of cultures suggest that children are better off when their parents monitor their social activities. This doesn’t mean hovering over kids or getting in the middle of every peer interaction but it does mean supervising where kids play and helping kids choose their friends.
8. Wherever possible, let kids try to work things out on their own-
Toddlers need to be closely supervised. But as they get older, parents need to back off a little bit and give their young one a chance to develop their own social skills.
9. Watch out for bullying-
Always watch out for your child from behind the scenes and ask them to talk about their day with friends. If your child talks about any instance that resembles bullying, intervene immediately. You can choose to talk to the child and if that does not show any results, then be sure to forbid your child from remaining friends with that person
Also, carefully observe if your child is bullying or trying to bully another child. This behavior also calls for immediate intervention. Talk to them about their behavior and change this habit as soon as possible.
Above all, allow your child to be free in choosing friends and learning from their mistakes. Never criticize them harshly or scold them especially in front of their friends. Happy parenting!