Social cues like knowing when to say hello help individuals navigate social situations. However, not all people are socially adept.
People will do anything that can gain social confidence. Some attend professional development training to teach them how to better socialize. Others explore cosmetic and reconstructive procedures to improve physically and boost confidence.
Social awkwardness is quite common, especially among young children. Fortunately, there are many ways you and your child can practice social skills at home. You just need an open mind and lots of patience.
Below is an easy-to-understand list of tips to help your child develop the social skills necessary for success.
Helping Your Child Practice Social Skills at Home
Develop Your Relationship With Your Child
Having a solid relationship with your child can make you an effective teacher. To build your relationship with them, here are a few key steps you can take:
- Dedicate Quality Time to Your Child
By spending quality time with them, you will better understand their personality and behavior. Time spent with your child will facilitate the trust necessary for structured activities.
- Pay Attention to Your Child’s Interest and Build Upon Them
Knowing your child’s interests helps you develop confidence in creating activities for learning.
- Communicate Regularly With Your Child
Constant communication sets a good example and builds trust. You may start by asking your child how they are doing.
The more you exert an effort to communicate with them, the more they’ll absorb from your interactions.
Strengthen Emotional Vocabulary
Many children throw temper tantrums in response to frustration and anger. The behavior usually includes screaming, crying, throwing items, hitting, and biting.
Although such behavior is a normal part of toddlers’ development, it can be distressing for parents or primary caregivers.
Expanding your child’s emotional vocabulary may help you curb their temper tantrums. You may start by;
- Setting an Example
Children learn by watching others. By communicating your emotions toward your child, you’re implicitly letting them know that it’s okay to let their feelings out.
When you’re frustrated yourself, make sure to express your emotions calmly and be clear about how you’re feeling. That way, your child will have an idea that it’s possible to feel frustrated without being aggressive.
- Investing in Children’s Literature
Buy children’s books that are specifically designed to improve emotional vocabulary. These books usually contain “thinking” and “feeling” words that can help children learn to recognize their own emotions and that of other people.
Here are some of the books to check out:
- “On Monday When It Rained,” authored by Cherryl Kachenmeister
- “My Many Colored Days” by Seuss
- “When I Feel Angry” by Cornelia Maude Spelman
Let your child pick which story they like. You may read that book together or take turns.
You may read these books to them during the day or at night as part of their bedtime routine.
Reading bedtime stories is a fun activity that allows your child to practice listening and cooperation skills.
Practice Reading Facial Expressions
Your child may be struggling with reading and interpreting non-verbal cues and facial expressions.
An excellent way to practice reading facial expressions is to read a picture book. As you read, you let them identify the appropriate feeling based on the illustrations.
If your child labels the pictures correctly, praise them. If they’re wrong, discuss their answer and point out some non-verbal cues that indicate the right emotion.
Watching TV with your child can also be a great pastime. You may let them explain what they think the character on the screen is feeling based on their facial expressions.
Note that developing such a skill takes time, so be patient when your child does not always understand what you’re trying to communicate. Instead of criticizing them when they get things wrong, explain what you mean and use positive reinforcement.
Practice Activities That Require Teamwork
Finishing a simple project at home with your child can help boost their communication skills.
Make sure to always assign them a specific role in whatever activity you decide to do together. Try to use both verbal and non-verbal cues to help them keep on track.
For example, you can wash the dishes, do gardening, or bake cookies together.
When washing dishes, you may ask your child to dry the plates one at a time after you wash them. Doing simple tasks that require teamwork can improve their communication skills while teaching them to be responsible.
Engage in Activities That Promote Sharing
Engaging your child in sharing activities can help them develop empathy and cooperation skills. Teaching sharing is also an excellent way to educate your child on viewing the world from other people’s perspectives.
When children learn to share, they can make and keep friends, take turns, play cooperatively, know how to negotiate, and cope with disappointment.
Share activities and things with your child. More importantly, share your time. Sharing teaches children that if we give a little to others, we can get some of what we want too.
Use Technology to Socialize With Others Online
Today, we use applications such as Skype or Zoom more than before. These virtual interactions may also provide a positive learning experience for your child.
If you’re talking to a friend or relative over the internet, allow your child to watch how you interact with them.
You can arrange for virtual playdates between your child and their friends. You can also encourage them to video call their friends sometimes.
As your child communicates with their grandparents or teachers, guide them and see how they interact online. Whenever you see an opportunity to teach them social skills, do so after the call.
More importantly, don’t forget to praise your child whenever they appropriately express themselves in a given situation.
Give Your Child Responsibilities
Give your child responsibilities around the house so that they understand how individuals fulfill different roles for a unified purpose.
When you give them tasks, make sure to explain why they need to take personal responsibility and be accountable for their actions.
For example, you tell them to make their bed every morning. Explain to them why this task needs to be done. You can also let them recognize the importance of the task by asking them questions like, “Would you like to sleep in a messy bed?”
Make sure that they see you doing chores, too. When you tell them to take the trash outside, be the one who wheels it up to the curb, for example. This way, you’ll be emphasizing the importance of cooperation and solidifying your words with actions.
Remember that even a quick conversation can be a helpful learning experience for your child. So while you spend most of your time at home, help them build upon the social skills they need to interact successfully.
Teaching your child social skills at home can be challenging at first. However, with patience and dedication, you’ll surely see their progress.