Kids have such a lot to learn. And it’s natural that, as a mama, you’ll want to help them do it. The thing is, though, that it’s not always obvious how you can help. Particularly when it comes to those intangible and unmeasurable things like social skills for kids.
How can I help my child with social skills? It’s a super common question on Peanut. And it’s great that you’re asking. Because while things like snatching, avoiding eye contact, or forgetting manners might seem like small insignificant things, these social skills may actually play a big role in the rest of their lives.
So, here we’re looking at social skills for kids. And we’ll help you out with some of the most fun social skills activities for kids too. Learning, after all, should be fun.
What are social skills for kids?
Let’s start off with the basics. When it comes to teaching children social skills, the first question that pops into the mind is: what are some good social skills? Or, what are the social skills my child actually needs? Really, these skills are the things many of us can take for granted as adults (and we have our own mamas to thank for that).
Here are some examples of social skills your child may benefit from having:
Examples of social skills
- Listening to others. Listening is about having respect for other kids’ ideas and feelings and preferences. In that way, it enables your child to build strong relationships – and to learn from teachers and others, too.
- Sharing. Kids can sometimes have a bit of an ego (“it’s mine!”). That’s totally normal for the most part. But learning to share can help them find friends – and make themselves feel good.
- Understanding personal space. It might be normal for your kids to come into your room unannounced, or to sit on you when talking, but not everyone in life will like that. Personal space, in the wider world, is a concept they’ll want to learn.
- Good manners. Pleases and thank-yous can go a long way (we probably don’t need to tell you that, mama!).
- Cooperating and teamwork. In life, we often work together. But it might not come naturally to everyone (and that’s okay!). Leading or following instructions, or simply working toward a common goal, will be skills you might want to encourage.
- Waiting their turn. Patience is a virtue, yep. But it’s a skill to be learned too.
- Making eye contact. Kids can sometimes struggle with maintaining eye contact when talking to others. But it’s a big part of listening and showing respect for others talking. As a result, it might be up there in the list of top social skills for kids.
How can I help my child with social skills?
So, social skills are basically the things that we do to get on with each other? Pretty much, yep!
The awesome thing about kids (and we hope a reassuring thing for you) is that, in the vast majority of cases, they’ll learn social skills all by themselves. Because that’s what kids do.
At the same time, we also get that it can be a bit disconcerting to see your little one snatch or be rude, say. And at that point, you might want to step in and see how you can help.
The best way? Fun activities. Social skills training for kids doesn’t need to be a chore – neither for you nor for your little one. Here are some games and activities that you can try with your child to get them to develop their social skills.
Social skills activities for kids
- Simon says. A classic. One person says some instructions (“do a little dance”, “clap your hands”), and the others should only do that thing when the person says “Simon says” first. It’s a fun way to learn about listening properly and patience.
- A staring contest. If kids struggle to make eye contact, turn it into a competition. You can even do it with a twist: the starers can tell each other stories while doing it.
- Music and rhythm games. Musical chairs and musical statues are games that can help listening skills. But music can also be used much more imaginatively! Work with your child to create a dance routine to their favorite song, for example. Studies have found that sharing rhythms can help share emotions and experiences collectively. And that’s what social skills are all about.
- Painting together. One piece of paper, one set of colors. You and your child decide what to draw together and get down to work. It’ll be a masterpiece – and they’ll improve their sharing and teamwork skills.
- Charades. As a social activity for kids, charades can be incredibly fun for some and quite daunting for others. But it helps develop ideas around body language and non-verbal expression – and this can help their understanding of personal space. You can do it with emotions rather than films, to make it a little easier.
- Gardening. It doesn’t have to be in a garden, if you don’t have one. But cultivating a plant together with a friend or sibling can help kids learn responsibility for something. And they can get all mucky too.
Some tips to remember during kids’ social activities
The games and activities help a lot. But, if you want to develop social skills for kids, it’s worth bearing some general things in mind.
- Sometimes, it’s good for kids to lose. Obviously, you’ll want your kids to be winners! But losing can be a skill to learn when playing, too.
- Pleases and thank-yous. During any social activity, kids can be practicing manners – particularly when they’re collaborating together.
- Tidying away. Games and social activities are great. But, when they’re over, you can teach them to be responsible and help clear up afterwards.
While we know it can be a bit of a worry to think about how your kid will grow up, we want to say: you’re doing great! So, keep it up!