Social skills are the skills we use every day to communicate with others. Good social skills can help children to build up their confidence, form friendships at school and even help to with future career opportunities.
Some children are naturally very sociable, while others need a helping hand to develop these invaluable skills. Here are a few useful tips from Brampton College on how parents can help to improve their child’s social skills…
Starting conversations with new people can be difficult for some children. To help your child feel more confident about speaking to others, it can be useful to practice conversations together. Give your child tips on how to start a conversation using a simple compliment or question. It is also helpful to explain how to hold a conversation, and stress the importance of eye contact and listening to others when they are speaking.
Arrange play dates
School playgrounds are often busy and loud and can feel overwhelming to some children. This can make it difficult for quieter children to get involved and feel included in friendship groups. If your child has expressed concerns over making friends at school, you could arrange a play date at your home with some of their classmates. This will help your child to make friends in a familiar setting, where they feel more relaxed and confident.
Be a good role model
Parents should aim to be a good role model for their children by demonstrating effective social skills with others. Be aware of how you talk to your family and use good manners for your child to replicate. If you forget and end up modelling the wrong behaviour to your children, don’t panic – we all have our moments! Take a deep breath, apologise and use it as an opportunity to show them that adults also make mistakes.
Take a step back
Where possible, try to take a step back and allow your child to work out issues on their own. Disputes with friends are common at school and learning how to resolve these situations is an important life lesson. Give your child space to stand on their own two feet and gain independence. If, however, the situation becomes more serious, such as bullying for example, you should step in and seek help from the school.
Encourage a hobby
Encourage your child to take up a new hobby, such as sports or drama. Extra-curricular activities are a great way to boost your child’s self-confidence and develop their social skills. This is because they will be exploring a new environment and meeting new people. Your child may also have the opportunity to develop their problem solving and teamwork skills.
Talk about feelings
Finally, helping your child to develop their social skills isn’t simply teaching them to follow rules and remember their manners, but to inspire them to think for themselves, and learn to understand feelings. This includes their personal feelings and the feelings of others. By discussing feelings and emotions with your child you can help them to learn coping techniques, which will benefit them throughout their lives.