Social development is a crucial part of a child’s growth. Some children are naturally more adaptive to social settings than others, but all children need to learn social skills early on. This will help them understand appropriate ways to talk to people, touch people, and interact with people as a whole so they are prepared to enter the world later on. Listed below are five ways to boost your child’s social skills.
Participate In Extracurricular Activities
If possible, give your child multiple settings in which to make friends. In addition to school and church, you may get your child active in a sports team or after-school music class. You could participate in a “mommy and me” class, where you do activities with your child and other parents and children in your area. This is a great place to meet people for playdates if you choose to set them up in the future.
Set Up Play Dates
Playdates are great opportunities for children to interact with other kids in their homes. This not only teaches them how to play with people who have different personalities, but it also exposes them to new environments. Ideally, you should find children who are well-mannered and well-behaved so your child does not develop bad habits. If your child is struggling with speech development, you may have playdates with slightly older children who have better vocabularies. You’ll be amazed by how well children respond to other children when it comes to speaking.
Watch TV Without The Sound On
Watching TV without the sound will teach your child how to pick up on nonverbal skills. This way, your kid can focus on each character’s movements, rather than the songs he is singing or the words he is saying. Understanding body language is just as important as understanding what people have to say. You can teach your child to identify nonverbal cues, which he or she may notice in real life in the future.
Note that the show you have on mute should be something your child is familiar with, not a show you personally watch in your free time. Educational cartoons and puppet shows are great, as show those star children in them. The more interested your child is in the show, the more likely he is to pay attention to what is going on (and the nonverbal cues that come along the way).
Practice Taking Turns
Children are inherently impatient, which is why many of them struggle with taking turns. They want to say what they have to say right away, even if someone else is talking. The same can be said about playing with a specific toy they like. Spend some time each day working with your child on taking turns. Try telling a story with your child, where you say one part of the story and he makes up the next. If your child interrupts you, explain that he will have his turn in a moment. Respect his time to talk, and he will learn to respect yours. Apply those same lessons when you are on the phone with other people or talking to adults in your home.
Teach Your Child Appropriate Emotional Responses To Various Situations
You can teach your child about empathy by going over hypothetical situations and asking him how he would react in them. If the reaction is inappropriate, discuss better ways of handling the situation. It’s important to teach your child how to be empathetic with phrases like, “How would that make you feel if that happened to you?” This is especially true if your child does something wrong, like taking a toy from another child during playtime. Once your child can see other people’s perspectives on the matter, he will be less likely to act inappropriately in the future.