Social skills don’t come easy to every child and unfortunately they are not skills that are taught in school. Many children can benefit dramatically from additional skill building tools and tips to help them build and maintain friendships. It can also have strong positive implications on how that child will interact in their job and life in general as they step into adulthood.
Social skills include the following:
Help Your Child Prepare – Before you send your child off into social situations, help prepare him or her by doing some role playing or by having discussions about how to interact. Teach your child about proper body language, facial expressions, typical conversations, small talk, non-verbal behaviors, eye contact, speaking up, saying please and thank you, giving a compliment, receiving a compliment, etc.
Present Your Child With Opportunities – One of the best tips to improve your child’s social skills is to give your child opportunities to practice their social skills by setting up play dates, signing them up for classes, taking them to parties, sending them to summer camp, etc. The more you allow your child to hide out at home, the harder it will become for him or her to engage socially.
Teach Your Child About Compromise – Children that struggle with social skills often have a hard time sharing or compromising, so it is important to prepare them ahead of time when they will need to use these skills. Before a play date, for example, help your child come up with ideas of what they might want to play and how that play might look. Then during the play date, help your child take turns with his or her friend, choosing what they want to play and compromising with each other.
Get Your Child’s Teacher on Your Team – Another invaluable tip to improve your child’s social skills is to work together with his or her teacher. By discussing your child’s social issues with his or her teacher, you can learn more about how your child interacts at school and the teacher can put your child in situations that will be helpful. The teacher can also help you learn which children your child interacts well with so that you can set up play dates with that child. In addition, the teacher can put you in touch with the people and programs that can further assist your child.
Help Your Child Take An Interest in Others – We all know that when we listen to others and take an interest in others, those people tend to like us more. It’s a simple skill to learn and it’s one that you can teach your child to help him or her interact with others. By focusing on others, it takes the pressure off of knowing how to interact or converse with others.
Teach Your Child to Think Before Speaking or Reacting – Teach your child about the importance of pausing before reacting or speaking to help him or her choose the best possible reaction. This will help your child to gain a better sense of control in social interactions.
Praise Your Child’s Social Behaviors Without Making a Big Deal – When children struggle socially, sometimes drawing a lot of attention to how they act socially can cause more anxiety, even if the attention is positive. It can often be more effective to lightly bring it up when preparing for other social interactions. For example, if you are helping your child prepare for a play date, you could remind him or her of something that went well in a previous play date.
We hope you find these tips to improve your child’s social skills helpful. You might also find the following article helpful: Understanding Children on the Spectrum.
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