Are you worried your child is behind socially? Humans are social animals. Even the most introverted person still desires a connection with another person. Here, we share tips to improve your child’s social skills that can easily be incorporated into your schedule.
Lack of good social skills can cause a lot of problems for children when they’re young and when they get older. At a young age, they may have difficulties making friends and playing with others, and as they get older, underdeveloped social skills can contribute to public speaking fears, social anxiety, and it can lessen their potential career paths.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve social skills as your child grows. If you have an outgoing child, you may not need to focus on getting them out of their shell, but if you have a shy child, the best thing to do is to start small and work up to bigger social challenges.
Let’s talk about a few ways to help improve your child’s social skills.
1. Teach you child about emotions
Social communication isn’t just spoken words, it’s body language and emotions, too. Teaching your child to understand and identify emotions goes a long way in their social development. A good way to practice this skill is by having your child identify emotions in stories and movies, imitate emotions, and discuss their own emotions, as well.
2. Encourage low-stakes social communication
Every bit of communication helps, even the smallest interactions. For a shy child, encouraging communication may be something as simple as having them wave at a stranger or respond, even non-verbally, to a new person who engages with them. As your child grows more comfortable communicating with strangers, these tasks can graduate to ordering their own food and speaking for themselves in the doctor’s office or at school.
3. Increase their opportunities to use social skills
They can’t improve their social skills unless they have opportunities to practice them. One of the best ways for a child to practice their social skills is by being around other people. Places such as daycare or pre-kindergarten are great for this, because it allows them to be with children their own age. If daycare or pre-kindergarten aren’t options for your child, then take care to make sure they’re exposed to other children at least once a day. These interactions can happen at a local playground, the library, or even by taking music or dance lessons.
4. Model good social skills to improve your child’s social skills
Some children learn best by seeing, so if you need to brush up on your social skills, now is the time. A great way for a child to absorb proper social skills is by watching their parents, relatives, and family friends. Make a habit of being polite and greeting strangers, and take your child to social settings where they can observe other people communicating with each other. Even if they’re not ready to be social, they’re still learning by observation.
5. Don’t make a habit of speaking for your child
Last, try your best not to speak for your child. I know this can be a difficult task if you’re dealing with a painfully shy child, but you’re doing them no favors by speaking for them. Give them an adequate amount of time to respond or correct themselves in social situations, because this will help instill confidence for future interactions.
It’s important for children to have social skills, and while it may come naturally to some children, it can take practice for others. Don’t be discouraged if you have a naturally shy child, because with steady effort and encouragement, any child can develop a core set of social skills.