15 considerations for supporting the development of your child’s social skills

Let’s talk about Social Skills! As adults, we don’t often think much about social skills, as they are ingrained in our daily lives – like getting dressed in the morning or brushing our teeth. Human beings are sociable creatures, and we have developed many ways to communicate our messages, thoughts, and feelings with others. Children, however, must learn social skills from scratch, much like learning to read and write.

Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language and our personal appearance. This is an incredibly intricate set of skills which takes time and practice to acquire. The ability is built on foundational receptive communication skills (hearing and understanding language from others) and expressive communication skills (sharing thoughts and ideas with others).

Setting good examples in front of our children is the natural place to start, as they instinctively mimic and copy what we do. By demonstrating sound social skills at home, such as speaking to others in respectful tones, listening to what others have to say, and waiting to speak in turn, children subconsciously take this all in, and voila! The beginnings of developing social skills is a work in progress.

Children are like sponges, they absorb everything!

To help support the development of your child’s social skills, start by paying attention to your own behaviours as you go about engaging in the following ways. You will probably learn a bit about yourself in the process!

  1. Facial expressions
  2. Body language
  3. Gestures
  4. Interacting in group situations
  5. Collaborating with others
  6. Exercising patience and taking turns
  7. Sharing
  8. Achieving compromise
  9. Demonstrating empathy
  10. Play skills
  11. Conversation skills
  12. Emotional skills
  13. Problem solving skills
  14. Showing encouragement
  15. Maintaining eye contact

Many of the above skills will come naturally, however when we stop and think about them in isolation, we may notice that we have to work harder to demonstrate some skills than others, or some areas that we could definitely improve upon.

One of our most important jobs in life is to be good role models for our children. By examining our own behaviours from time to time, we may not only enhance our own social skills, but we also ensure we are role modelling desirable behaviours for our children! Over time, you should see your little person starting to use more and more of the skills outlined above in their interactions with others.

Fun ways at home to develop social skills

Playing board games can be a fun way to practice using social skills at home.

Firstly, board games are fun, but they also require patience, self-control, and using manners. For example, after you’ve rolled the dice and moved your character, say, “Your turn!” Then, when your child has finished moving their character, say, “My turn!” before rolling the dice. By verbalising the order of play, it introduces children to the concept of taking turns, helps to develop the elusive character trait of patience, and begin to understand game play etiquette. This prepares them for navigating group settings such as when it’s time to start kindy or school.

Playing board games also helps to introduce children to the emotionally challenging task of how to conduct themselves whether winning or losing! This is a really important skill which will set them up well once they’re taking their first steps out into ‘the real world’ at school. Let’s face it, we are not always going to be ‘the winner’, so it’s important to learn humility in defeat.

If you have any questions about the above skills or your child is having difficulties with some of them, have no fear. You can directly reach out to one of our friendly paediatricians HERE We are here to help!

Adelaide Paediatrics – Helping Children and Families Thrive

Adelaide Paediatrics’ doctors, allied health professionals and staff care about your family and what you are going through. We take the time to listen and understand so that you feel supported and empowered as we work together to care for your child. We know that sometimes medical issues in children cannot wait, so if an appointment is required urgently, we will accommodate as best we can and can usually offer an urgent appointment with a paediatrician within 7 days.

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