Is your child at the age when they are preparing to enter elementary school? Are you worried about him/her having trouble socializing and making friends?
If so, then you can use this as an opportunity for teaching social skills that will help your kid get along with others easily. Awkward children face a variety of obstacles with interactions, and your teachings can help them address multiple problems at once.
With our knowledge of childcare and education, you can help your kid overcome social issues and gradually make friends that can make school a fun experience for them.
Here are seven tips for teaching social skills to your child so that they are comfortable at school.
1. Determine the Issue(s)
Part of helping your child develop social skills is figuring out what exactly is holding them back from making friends. Some kids may have trouble with small talk, while others aren’t good at understanding other people’s perspectives.
We recommend not throwing a large amount of needed social skills at him/her at once. Address the issues that you notice primarily and schedule a time of day to work on them.
Once you’ve practiced these skills and they report success after school, you can move on to skills that they might not struggle with but could benefit from learning. Show them how to apply these skills in everyday interactions, and they can rely on a small number of skills to get positive attention when applied correctly.
2. Consider Family Interactions
Is your son or daughter an awkward kid at school but has no trouble interacting with relatives or at home? If so, then they can apply those practices to situations outside the house where they experience social anxiety.
You can encourage your child to approach other kids in class or on the playground the same way they do with people at home. They can ask you or their grandparents how they made friends when they were his/her age.
Kids can also learn how interacting with other children is different from talking to relatives. This will allow them to make good first impressions and avoid awkward interactions.
3. Focus on Strengths
Instead of looking at what your kid does wrong in social interactions, using something positive to start with their teachings. This will reduce the chances of your son or daughter feeling bad about being an awkward child.
Help your child focus on their strengths, such as subjects they do good in. This can help them find other kids who also like science or history and discuss their ideas in these fields.
If your kid excels at certain sports and activities, then he can try to make friends during recess when everyone is playing kickball or dodgeball. Kids with musical talents can also interact with kids who play the same instruments and those who can teach him/her how to play other ones.
4. Don’t Focus on Deficits
Another way that you can avoid approaching this challenge in a negative way is by not treating your child’s social issues as a deficit. Adults have an easy time assuming that kids who struggle socially have something wrong with them.
Kids who have a hard time making friends can face confusion and stress in their attempts. Treating their challenges as a deficit could put extra pressure on them and affect their mindset in a negative way.
Instead, present these lessons to your child as a fun challenge. Tell them that its ok if some of their interactions don’t work out, as they offer a way to approach other people in new ways that can lead to friendships.
5. Practice in Other Environments
If you want your kid to become a social child, then you can use more than your home to help them practice. It helps to take your kid to other environments with large amounts of people and chances to interact.
You can your child can people watch on a bench at the local park to see how people of different ages approach each other. He/she can learn what they should avoid as well as what new things they can say to start conversations.
After watching other examples, you can have the kid approach other children who are playing together to practice what they’ve learned. Whatever they experience can be applied on their first day of elementary school.
6. Stay Calm
Teaching social skills requires that you make your child feel eager and less pressured to improve their ability to communicate. How you act when they face setbacks or don’t catch on to your lessons affects their progress.
Most kids are less understanding and can even be unkind about others’ issues, so you need to make them feel less ashamed of their challenges. Don’t get mad or raise your voice when your kid doesn’t understand what you’re teaching them.
You can also stay calm and make lessons easier for your child by not interfering in their interactions. This can help them feel more comfortable in starting over and think that you are confident in them enough to do it right the next time.
7. Prepare Them for New Situations
While you should approach one social scenario at a time to get your kid used to interactions, there is always a new situation around the corner. You need to encourage your child to keep learning how what they say can affect them in different dilemmas at school.
The statements and questions your kid asks other students may not apply in conversations with teachers. Your child can learn how to manage different emotions so that other people can understand them.
Over time, your kid can learn about negotiations, assertiveness, non-communication, and conflict resolution. This will prepare them for interacting with older kids as they move up in grades.
Our Take on Teaching Social Skills
Teaching social skills to your child can be a fun and rewarding experience for both of you if approached correctly. You’ll need to understand what specific issues your kid has and how they can use their strengths to overcome them.
It’s also important to take your time and help them avoid pressure and stigma so that they can look at improving social skills as an opportunity instead of a chore. You can also show them how other people interact so that they can pick up new skills
With these tips, your child will be able to make friends, impress teachers, and leave a positive impression on people over time.