Posted on Jun 30th 2022
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many social interactions now look different. It’s been hard on us adults but has also been difficult for our little ones. Interacting with kids their age is a huge part of childhood development.
We’ve gathered five tips for helping your child develop social skills at home. For young children, check out Romp n' Roll classes and sign your child up for an opportunity to practice and develop their social skills in a safe environment.
Children learn a ton through the examples of their parents and family. One of the best ways to help your child improve their social skills is to be intentional about your own social presence and interactions. When you are with your child but talking to other people, model good listening skills by maintaining eye contact and not interrupting the other person. When you speak, try to demonstrate how to continue the conversation through your responses or by asking questions.
Continue to model these skills when talking with your child. Over time, they will start to understand the subtle things we do when talking with people. Setting this example will help your child as they interact with their peers.
Having and showing empathy for others when engaging in conversation is an essential skill to have. Help your child understand empathy by discussing possible scenarios and asking them how they might feel in that situation. If they have a negative interaction with a sibling, help your children discuss how they both feel about the situation.
A big part of empathy is listening closely to people and making them feel heard. You can teach this skill by modeling it. Listening to your children (even when they may not have anything “important” to say) will help them learn and understand empathy and express that to others.
Understanding another person's boundaries may be foreign to most children, so it’s an essential skill to teach. Whether you have an extroverted child who loves to hug and chat or an introverted child who prefers to play independently, help them understand other children may interact or prefer to play differently.
Having boundaries and asking for permission when hugging/holding hands, playing games, sharing toys, etc., is critical when making friends and building connections. You can teach this when playing with your child. If your child wants a toy you’re holding, you can set a boundary by saying you will share the toy when you finish playing with it. Or, If they want to get rowdy and rough-house with you, you can set a boundary by saying you don't want to rough-house and then suggesting a different game.
Children love movies and shows. While it’s recommended to keep screen time to a minimum when possible, movies and tv shows can also be an excellent tool for teaching social skills. For example, comedies are often a great way to introduce the subtleties of conversations and social interactions.
When something funny happens on screen, you can take a moment to pause and chat about the moment and why it was funny. You can mention body language, things you know about the character that makes the scene funny, or explain the sarcasm behind their voice. You don’t have to do this with every joke, but doing this a few times can help build that base of understanding.
Many children’s shows and movies tackle topics related to being a good friend, a kind person, and so on. The method of pausing when something happens and discussing it with your child can help them understand all kinds of social skills.
Kids are active learners and build skills through play. If your child struggles with some social skills, you can try a fun game or activity to help them practice. Here are a few ideas:
Helping your children build social skills is important and even more critical today as they have fewer opportunities to do it independently. We hope that with these tips, you can encourage your children to develop those essential social skills needed to have fun with others and make friends. For more opportunities for your children to work on their social interactions, enroll your child today at your local Romp n' Roll.