As children grow up, they become part of a much bigger social world. As a result, it’s important to foster social skills from an early age – here’s some great ideas from Kiddit to help you!
Learning to interact socially with others is one of the most important skills your child will ever learn. Of course, this is easier for some than others. Your child might be naturally outgoing, or they might be shy and find it difficult to interact with others.
Both extroverted and introverted children have just as much capacity to be happy and successful in life, so don’t worry if your child seems to prefer just having a few special friends, rather than be part of a big social group. However, if your child really struggles to join in socially, they may benefit from some gentle parental encouragement.
The Key Approaches To Developing Social Skills
If you’re a parent to a naturally introverted child, it’s inadvisable to ‘force’ them to interact with others. For a shy person, this can be a painful experience, regardless of their age! These four concepts provide guidance to help you gently encourage your child in social situations.
- Praise – When they interact socially, praise them. Let them know that they’re acting in a positive way, and they’ll be more likely to do it in the future.
- Show – Social skills may not come naturally to your child and they may have difficulty identifying the ‘right’ social behaviour. Point out occasions when you see social skills in action – for example, on a TV show, or when you’re playing together.
- Lead – Children take most of their learning cues from their parents. Make sure you regularly demonstrate how to behave in social situations, and they’ll start to follow your lead.
- Prompt – Don’t pressurize your child to join in. Instead, gently encourage them. If required, accompany them for a brief while, then quietly leave them once they feel more comfortable.
Great Toys That Help Children Learn To Be Social
- Building Toys – Construction toys, such as building blocks or magnetic toys, are ideal for collaborative working. Set a challenge for your child and their friend (or even yourself) to work together to build the tallest tower possible. Make sure your child is encouraged to explore ideas verbally with their building partner, and take turns in placing blocks on top of one another.
- Dolls – Dolls provide the ideal opportunity for some imaginative role-playing games. Give your child a specific situation (for example, the doll needs to go to the shops to buy some ingredients for a birthday cake) then get them to act out that situation, adopting the ‘voices’ of the dolls. This helps them to develop conversational skills and solve socially-related problems.
- Board Games – Playing board games as a family, or getting your child to play them with friends, is a great way to learn some fundamental social skills – such as taking turns, answering questions, and being a good team player.
- Books – Reading story books together may seem like a solitary activity – but it provides your child with the perfect opportunity to discuss characters, exploring their feelings and reactions to certain situations. This in turn enables your child to articulate their own emotions, which is invaluable when it comes to interacting meaningfully with others.
- Pretend Play – If your child lacks confidence talking to others, buy them a kitchen play set, puppets or some dress-up costumes to help them learn how to express themselves without embarrassment. Ask them to put on a short play for you, then give them plenty of praise afterwards. If your child is uncomfortable doing this, you may want to join in to begin with!
Educational Toys At Kiddit
Kiddit have a wide range of educational toys for kids, including items that are ideal for developing important social skills. If you’d like to explore our range, simply visit the Kiddit website today.