Last week we explored how parents can help children develop healthy social communication skills with their peers. Our Parent Representative, Pam Garrity, gives parents three tips on how to tackle bad habits in social interactions, and teach children healthy and assertive strategies for getting along with others.
So what are “social skills”? What does a healthily socialized child look like? Let’s look at some skills children need to learn to thrive with others:
- Accepting differences
- Asking for help
- Conversation skills
- Complimenting others
- Disagreeing graciously
- Encouraging others
- Following directions
- Active listening
- Participating equally
- Conflict resolution
- Staying on task
- Taking turns
- Taking risks
- Adjusting voice volume
- Personal space (of others and themselves)
- Handling disappointment
Your child will face any number of challenges in their childhood that present opportunities for them to develop these skills. As parents, we often have a natural tendency to jump in to solve problems as they arise–especially when our child comes to us for help! But are we disempowering them when we do that?
Our Parent Representative, Pam Garrity, provides three tips for parents to empower their children with the tools they need to deal with the social dilemmas they inevitably will face. How many times has your child felt frustration when playing with their friends, then had a meltdown because they didn’t know how to deal with the situation? What is the best way to respond as a parent? When is the best time to step in? And how much? Try these strategies the next time this issue arises.
- Fight the natural tendency to swoop in and solve the problem for your child. “Fixing” the problem may not ultimately be in a child’s best interest, as it teaches them to disengage from a problem rather than thinking creatively to solve it.
It may be counterintuitive, but we want children to experience challenges that require them to make natural mistakes while they problem-solve. This is going to be hard! It’s going to get messy (quite literally!). Encourage your child to hash out issues with their peers on their own, try new techniques, and make mistakes.
2. Break the bad patterns. For example, according to a parent our Parent Rep spoke with, their child had their space invaded by another child in a sandbox at a park. The parent took initiative during the situation, yet spoke for their child and scolded the other. When these incidents arise, pause. Allow the space for your child to attempt a solution. Be open to feedback. If your child comes to you seeking a solution, encourage communication, but allow the children to come to a solution.
Make sure to get everyone on the same page! Discuss the autonomy you would like your child to develop with other adults that may take care of them–parents, grandparents, nannies, etc. Even communicating with other parents on the playground is important. Suggest working together, such as, “Help us practice some role-modeling,” when opportunities arise.
3. Role-model! This can be done any time, with almost any adults, while your child is watching. The truth is, adults are role-modeling to children every second of the day. Whether or not you want your children to emulate what you do, that is up to you. Children will imitate the behavior and attitudes of the adults they are surrounded by, for better or worse. We must apply conscious effort to model the skills we want to see exhibited in our own children.
Download this interactive Communication Skills Builder Checklist to assess your child’s individual strengths!
Do you have more questions about your child’s social needs, and what you can do as a parent to help? Fill out this form to reach our Parent Representative.