It seems like some children, like many adults, are naturally more socially adept than others. These are the kind of people others gravitate to and for whom making friends comes easily. Why is that it that others seem fluent in friendship making and social skills while others struggle immensely? Good news! Like any other skill, social skills can be learned. What is important, however, is that children are able to form meaningful bonds with others, can empathize and interact with others appropriately, and have the skills to adapt in uncomfortable situations
We have all had the experiences where we encountered someone who maybe lacked what we called “people skills”. It can be frustrating and leave us scratching our heads. The following list is eight important social skills to teach your child. Knowing how to use and why to use social skills can help individuals both young and older set goals for themselves and build positive relationships with peers either at school or in the workplace.
- Paraphrasing: Teaching your child the art of paraphrasing serves an important purpose. When the listener can repeat back the main points of a message or get to the emotion behind a message, it lets the speaker know that they have been heard. Your child practices active listening skills and reflection.
- Using appropriate tone and volume: Voice volume refers to how loud or soft a speaker’s voice level is. Voice tone, refers to how your voice is heard and the meaning that is interprett\ed from others, beyond just the spoken word. Using the appropriate volume and tone can make a big difference in how someone is perceived by others.
- Using names: We are introduced to a wide array of people every day. It is an essential skill to get comfortable using people’s names. When introductions are made it is good practice to repeat the person’s name to help you remember and feel comfortable using it that way. For example, we met a new doctor who has a very long complicated last name. She introduced herself as, “Hi, Please call me Dr. Michelle.” I encouraged my kids to greet her with, “It’s nice to meet you, Dr. Michelle.”
- Waiting patiently: Starting at a young age to teach patience is a good idea. Using smaller or shorter times of required patience is perfect practice. For example, We need to wait five minutes for the cookies to cool down before we have our snack. Using purposeful delays or asking them to play independently for a period of time all help us wait as patiently as possible. All this leads to self-control and acceptance of delayed gratification for the things we want.
- Respecting personal space: Respecting personal space, especially, in elementary school is an essential skill to help kids stay safe. It is never fun to have someone run into you or bump into you because they had no concept of personal space. We all have that circle of space around us that we consider our personal space. People we know may be closer inside that circle as opposed to someone we just met.
- Compromising and cooperating with others: We all want to be perceived as someone who is reasonable, can get along with others, or generally a good person. Those perceptions come hand in hand with our own ability to compromise and cooperate. Some things to think about is that it is OK to have a healthy disagreement. Compromising and cooperating is a win-win for everyone. Empathy is an outgrowth of learning these skills. It teaches us to see the needs and wants of others and the feelings that are attached.
- Flexible thinking: it is easy to get in the habit of routine, routine, routine. We did it this way last time, so we will do it exactly the same way this time. When the routine/consistency are broken it can create panic and anxiety. Flexible thinking allows the child to know that there is more than one way to get a job done. Check out my blog on encouraging flexible thinking!
- Understanding that my actions impact others: I believe that this is the toughest one–getting our children to stop the blame game and accept responsibility. Children need to hear that everyone makes mistakes even moms and dads. Holding kids accountable helps them understand that their actions (no matter how cute their little faces are) have consequences.
All my best to you,