child development · health · parenting

How to Teach Your Child to Nurture Social Skills | guest post by Isabel William

Social skills are an essential teaching we can give to our children. Blogger Isabel William takes over and shares her tips to foster an healthy social attitude in our kids, yet respecting their inclinations.

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There are many types of intelligence – contrary to popular belief, being smart doesn’t just mean being good at math. One of the most important sets of skills we own as people is our ability to relate to others, to communicate, empathize and connect with them. However, it’s often something we, as parents, fail to recognize as something we need to teach our children. Very often, social and emotional skills are something we think develops on its own. However, parents can actually help their youngsters a lot in developing this crucial skill set. If you are feeling stumped, here are just a few methods you can use to help your child learn how to manage their feelings and relationships successfully.

Teach tolerance

In many instances, the most crucial lessons can be taught only if you lead by example. Tolerance is one of those lessons. If you model kindness and acceptance, your child will learn to embrace differences. Relinquishing judgment and prejudice is the cornerstone of great interpersonal relationships. If your child seems less than accepting of the unknown or different, you can always rectify that with open and honest conversation. Be kind and understanding in your discussions, and use concepts and words that are appropriate and easy to understand for your child’s age. “Live and let live” is an awesome life philosophy to gift your kids.

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Encourage friendships

For some children, making friends comes as easy as breathing, while for others it can be a struggle. Respect your kid’s friendship style – let your social butterfly collect a whole group of friends, and allow your wallflower to form a deep bond with just a couple of close friends. However, try teaching them that friendship and loyalty are important. Organize play dates regularly for smaller children, throw them birthday parties and invite all their friends, and allow them to have sleepovers. Encourage your teenager to bring friends over and hang out both one-on-one and in larger friend groups.

Social activities

Many parents fail to realize that the moment a child starts school or an activity where the parents are not present, they start developing a slightly different, independent personality. This is an essential step in healthy development. To encourage their personal growth, encourage them to embrace plenty of activities. This teaches them to carve out a place for themselves in a group of peers, encouraging independence, confidence, and decision-making skills. Daily activities like sports and drama club are important but don’t forget longer periods of separation from parents either. Camps are extremely beneficial for younger children. If you have a teenager who is struggling with social skills, an amazing Schoolies 2019 event could be just what they need to build new friendships.

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Don’t trump assertiveness

While listening and being understanding and accommodating is one side of the coin when it comes to social interactions, it’s equally essential to be able to stand up for yourself. Social pressure among peers can be very tough, especially for teenagers. Allow your child to be assertive from a very young age. Sounds hard, right? Just how do you teach a shy toddler to be assertive? It’s actually simpler than you might think. The secret is to allow them to make as many decisions as possible. Let them make their own mistakes, and don’t be overly critical of them (within reason, of course). Children who learn early on to deal with the consequences (good and bad) of their actions are more likely to develop a good dose of confidence, which is the basis for healthy relationships.

Communication rules

Teaching your kids proper communication is extremely important for their further social development. Many people talk without really listening to others. Teach your children to listen to others and empathize with them. However, it’s equally important to be able to express their own thoughts, feelings and needs without shame, guilt or hesitation. Honest communication is best taught by model, so communicate with your child and others the way you want them to communicate. The language we use shapes our opinions and perception of reality, so be careful what words you choose. To teach your child to share, don’t just ask probing questions. Have a proper conversation instead – talk about what’s going on in your own life, share your opinions, and express a genuine interest in their life, thoughts, and feelings.

Sometimes children can seem downright selfish, and that can hinder their social development. It’s up to you to lead them by example and show them that empathy, kindness and healthy self-love are ultimately what leads to great interpersonal relations

About the author

Isabel is consultant by day and a blogger by night, mom to twins 24/7, and since recently editor on Health&Mental Health on Ripped.me. Areas of interest are well being, mental health, self improvement as well as beauty of millennial transitions in all aspects of life – especially self awareness. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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