Help Young Children Develop Social Skills

The ability to make friends is important to normal social development. A child who is comfortable and friendly with others and who has at least one friend at a time is usually developing normally. However, if a child is unable or unwilling to make friends, it's important to discover the cause and take steps to help. For example, shy child sometimes needs coaching on what to say or how to act so the child can join others in play.

Even very young children need contact with other people. This is how they learn the give and take of socializing. Children who begin to play with others at the age of one or two are less likely to be afraid in these early social situations. They learn to cope

With the occasional punches and toy snatching of other one and two year olds. When young children spend almost all of their time with adults, they may have difficulty interacting with others their own age. Adults are more polite and considerate than children. Children need to learn to enjoy the rough and tumble companionship of other children. If this learning is delayed until school age, the adjustment is more difficult. A five or six year old's feelings are more easily hurt. All children sometimes have disagreements and arguments. Whether or not a caregiver should step in depends on the situation. If two children are relatively evenly matched and there is no physical or emotional harm being done, the caregiver can simply observe the situation. Children need to learn how to solve social problems on their own. If it looks as though someone might get hurt, the caregiver needs to help the children solve the problem. It is the best for the children if the caregiver doesn't impose a solution but instead guides the children to find one for themselves..

Knowing how to get along with others is key to success and happiness and this depends upon social skills. There are many ways to help children develop social skills.

Establish a Basic Set of Rules to Guide Social Behavior

The rules will probably center on teaching respect for self, for others, and for things.

Model Good Social Skills

Children are great imitators. They learn best by being shown what to do rather than by just being told. For instance, parents who talk politely to others are more likely to get theri children to do so.

Help Children Understand and Respect Others Feelings

You might show a child pictures of people's faces with a variety of expressions. Ask the child to tell how the person in the picture might be feeling, such as sad or angry. Talk about what these feelings mean to help the child develop empathy. Talk to them about how you are feeling.

Show Respect For Other People's Feelings

Tell a child, for example, not to touch grandma's flower vase because it might get broken. This would make grandma very sad.

Show Children How To Use Words Rather Than Striking Out.

Explain how using appropriate words when they are angry is better than hitting or shoving.

Help Children Learn Specific Social SkillsDemonstrate how to share a toy, wait their turn, and be kind to one another