5 Social Skills You Can Start Teaching Your Child Now

Good social skills allow kids to interact confidently with others to convey their needs effectively, wants, and feelings. Children with excellent social skills benefit from seemingly trivial but essential support from their peers, elders & teachers, leading to success in school and better relationships.

Social skills aren’t something a child has or doesn’t have. They can be learned and strengthened with observation, effort and practice. There is always time to start learning how to get along with others.

You can start teaching (by your behaviour)  basic social skills first and keep improving your child’s skills over time.

Below are five social skills for kids

Basic Manners or Etiquette

Basic courtesies like saying please and thank you can go a long way toward getting your child to gain attention for the right reasons. A well-mannered child is a pleasure to be with.

Some of the simple ones can be taught by the parent following it. Some of them are: Burping loudly, sneezing without covering their mouth, washing their hands before a meal, not talking with mouths full and other suitable manners.

When the kid asks for a second or third serving, remind the kid that more people are yet to have their meal!

How to Practice

Walk the talk – be a role model. Children are keen observers, and they will learn from your good behaviour. After a meal at a friend’s house, thank the lady of the house for a wonderful meal, and it will prompt your children to follow suit.

Learning to Share

Young children, around 2 or 3 years of age, tend to share with others. A willingness to share a snack or a toy can go a long way to helping kids make and keep friends. When the parent comes from a scarcity mentality, the child subconsciously learns it.

When they are

between 3 and 6 years old, they tend to become selfish when they understand there is a limit to their resource. For example, kids may be reluctant to share half of their chocolate with a friend as they’ll have less to eat. They may be generous if they are not particularly fond of chocolates or if there is an abundance of them available.

Teaching kids to share with siblings or friends will help their self-esteem.

How to Practice

Reinforce good behavior with a compliment. Praise your child for sharing, “You shared your chocolate with your brother. Look how happy he is.”

Giving a Helping Hand

Your child will become responsible when he learns to share household responsibilities. Kids who help their parents will also learn the effort that goes into a job. It could be something as simple as organising their toys after a game, keeping their books organised, and placing the soiled clothes in the laundry bin.

Cooperating with others is an excellent opportunity for your child to learn how best to function in a group. Your child must collaborate with classmates in the classroom or the play area. They will know that help from classmates could work in their favour to finish building a toy tower

 much faster.

How to Practice

Ask them to clear their plates after a meal, don’t be upset if they drop a spoon or a plate while trying to do so. On weekends, create opportunities for the family to cook a meal or do laundry.

Listening attentively

Listening is a crucial aspect of communication, more so than speaking fluently. Listening is not about staying quiet while someone speaks—it means absorbing what the person is saying. Especially for a child, success in school depends on how well they listen to what the teacher is saying.

In a world where people listen to respond, please let your child know that listening is a part of developing empathy. A child can offer help to others only if they listen to understand. It is also a basic courtesy to the speaker if the listener listens attentively.

How to Practice

To emphasise the importance of listening, paraphrase what your child said or during a conversation, pause and say, “Tell me what you understood so far.” If there are gaps in their understanding, don’t lose patience, but help them fill in the gaps and encourage them to keep listening as you continue.

Eye Contact

Good eye contact is a critical part of communication. If your child is shy and prefers to stare at the floor or won’t look up while pretending to be engrossed in some activity, insist on making eye contact.

Make them understand that facial expressions and voice intonations add a lot to understanding the speaker. 

How to Practice

Demonstrate to your child that the facial expressions and the gestures used while speaking add to the communication. Show them how it feels to converse with someone who isn’t making eye contact by pretending to be busy with something else.

Discuss how they felt.

If your child struggles with social skills, correct them by being persistent without being aggressive. Some children may require repeated reminders to learn. Your patience and persistence will pay off when your child grows into a considerate young adult.