Helping Your Child with Social Skills

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Social skills are at the top of most parents list when it comes to which areas they want their child to develop successfully. Social skills are vital when it comes to school and career success – but they don’t come naturally to all children. It’s important to acknowledge that for many reasons, some children struggle with social skills. They may be shy or lack in confidence but there are numerous ways in which to help and empower them. 

The Shy Child 

Shy children can struggle when it comes to the most basic of social interactions. Asking for help, expressing a preference or playing with their peers – it just doesn’t come easy. Children like this are often absolutely fine at home among their own family. So it’s important to talk to your child when they are at their most relaxed. Discuss their difficulties and strategies which can help them to develop more social skills. Encouraging children to ‘have a go’ is how this independent school in London fosters confidence in children – and it’s confidence that is at the core of social interaction. 

What are Social Skills? 

In a nutshell, social skills are the set of behaviours which allow us all to successfully navigate our way through life by relating to other people in the best way in any given situation. These behaviours range from the ability to engage in small talk as adults to the ability to tell a story and keep an entire room fascinated and of course, for children those abilities are different. Children with good social skills tend to be popular and sought after as playmates – something we all want for our child. Some people are naturals. They excel at relating to others and have no issues talking to strangers or to peers. If your child is shyer or simply gets tongue-tied when expected to speak, give them opportunities to practice. 

Role Playing 

Role playing is an important part of learning to get over social difficulties. Discuss your child’s weakest areas with them and practice playing out different scenarios. If your child finds it hard to instigate games in the playground or to join in with others, practice some openers with them. For example – it’s not usually a good idea to ask, “Can I play?” because that leaves an opening for a child to say “No”. Which is not what a shy child needs to hear. 

Teach your child to use open-ended conversation starters. So if we look at the playground as a potential setting for our scenario, you can suggest some open-ended conversation starters to help your child join in. Here are some examples: 

“What are you playing?” 

“Wow, that was fast!” 

“This game looks fun!” 

“Have you ever played X (insert game here) before?” 

You can practice this with your child; discuss the sorts of occasions the different phrases might be used. 

Out and About 

When you’re out and about with your child, shopping, eating in restaurants or even visiting the doctor, it’s important to let them try to interact with adults. Small challenges can be a great way to begin; for example, your child could pay for their own things in the shop. Teach them what to say and when to say it. 

Good Manners 

Good manners are the basis of good social skills. Please and thank you as well as consideration for others will all help your child to develop their social skills.

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