Social skills are incredibly important for both adults and children. In fact, the quality of our social skills can positively (or negatively) influence our social circles and ultimately, how successful we are in life. Studies have shown that a child’s social and emotional skills could be the biggest predictor of their success later in life – so it’s crucial that parents pay attention to how well your child’s social skills are developing, even from a young age!
If you’re wondering what you can do to help your child develop these essential skills, we’re here for you. These are five effective ways you can start sharpening your child’s social skills today.
#1 – Give your child opportunities to socialise
To get your child’s social skills levelled up, it’s imperative that they are engaged in social situations with other children. Look for opportunities for your child to socialise with other children, whether it’s playing with your friend’s children or joining an event or activity.
Through these experiences, your child can learn valuable social skills, like making friends, sharing, taking turns, working out their differences, and more!
#2 – Demostrate basic social cues for your child to emulate
Social etiquette can be a little complicated to learn, but children can pick up these skills by emulating their most influential role models – their parents. When you’re in social situations and say “please” or “thank you”, let your child know that these are appropriate ways of asking for things, or thanking someone who has just helped you.
And when playing games with your child, you can demonstrate what it means to wait for their turn, share, and work with others to accomplish a task. One activity which you can do together as a family is simply taking turns talking about your day. Your child will get to learn about (and practise) speaking, listening and taking turns – while enjoying bonding time as a family.
#3 – Teach your child the value of sharing and respecting others
You can set your child on the right track by explaining the importance of sharing. Let them know that sharing is one way we show our friends that we care for them. Also, when our friends have toys and books that we like, it feels good when they’re willing to share these possessions with us – that’s why we should be happy sharing too!
When your child finds fulfilment and joy in sharing, they’ll be more likely to share toys, food and other items – as a plus point, this social skill will help them to make friends more easily (and further reinforce their joy for sharing).
#4 – Show your child how to listen intently
As adults, we appreciate family members, friends and colleagues who are good listeners. Although children are often rewarded for being outspoken (which is certainly a positive trait), it’s also necessary for children to learn how to listen – especially since much of their young lives will be spent listening to teachers as they learn.
One way you can practise this is by praising your child for listening when you’re talking to them, without interrupting you or being distracted by their surroundings. By having positive associations with listening, your child can pick up this valuable social trait – which will be helpful in future when they’re a good listener to their friends, colleagues, and life partner!
#5 – Help your child understand eye contact
One commonly overlooked social skill is a person’s ability to maintain eye contact. Good eye contact can project a sense of confidence, honesty and sincerity, and is a skill that’s best developed from a young age – this is especially so as children who are shy can develop habits like keeping their gaze downwards to avoid eye contact.
Once again, praise is a fantastic form of positive reinforcement, which you can use when your child maintains eye contact during conversations. This praise can come in the form of verbal praise or even a small reward, like My First Skoool’s “praise stickers”, which make makes this process even more fun for children! Subscribe to our Telegram channel to download My First Skool’s very own adorable “praise stickers”!
And if your child is shy and looks away, gently and lovingly remind them that that when speaking with someone, it’s always polite to make eye contact. They key is to always be gentle, kind and patient with your child here, especially if they’re naturally shy.
Learning social skills at NTUC First Campus' My First Skool
At NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool, social skills are taught in a variety of ways – including role play (where children have fun acting out different roles in highly engaging learning environments), storytelling sessions and project work. Our teachers facilitate social interactions during these sessions by teaching children the value of sharing, working together and communicating, which accelerates the development of their social skills.
Interested in giving your child a head start in life? Register at a My First Skool near you!