Helping your kids with their social skills

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Successful social interactions will play a crucial role in your child’s life, on both a personal level and in terms of their academic performance in school. From the minute they enter the world, parents can help their children develop healthy social skills, while bearing in mind that children are naturally more socially adept than adults. I have teamed up with an independent school in Hertfordshire to offer you the following advice. 

Learning appropriate behaviour

Helping your children learn how to communicate with others is not as simple as it may seem. Of course, children learn how to behave by observing their parents and other influential people around them, but they also need to learn what is or isn’t appropriate. For instance, when somebody else is speaking they need to know that they should listen and that it’s rude to interrupt. When it comes to playing with other children, they need to know that they should be kind and share their toys, and that teasing or bullying of any kind is unacceptable. They also need to know how to respond when someone is upset or angry, which moves us onto the next point.

Understanding body language and facial expressions

Explain to your youngster that certain facial expressions and body language can suggest a certain emotion. To help them grasp this concept you could play a game where they have to guess what you are feeling based on an expression. You could use drawings or cards if that’s easier than pulling different faces. The ability to determine how someone else is feeling will help your child understand how to respond appropriately and empathise with this person. For instance, if someone is crying, laughter is not appropriate. Knowing how certain gestures or expressions help a person demonstrate their emotions will also help your child communicate their own feelings more effectively.

Being socially active from a young age

A lonely, introverted child may find it harder to socialise and communicate with others. With that in mind, try and surround them with good company from an early age so that they are used to meeting new people and chatting to others. Essentially, the trick is to try and get them used to normal interactions by encouraging play dates and allowing them to take part in extracurricular activities. Both public and independent schools usually have an abundance of extra-curricular activities available to pupils to help them with their social skills and other personal development. 

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