Strong social skills are a huge indicator of success in future life. Adults that have poor social skills have a harder time making and keeping friends, having meaningful relationships, finding a job and being successful in a career. Social skills have always been important, but with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and an overall shift to spending more time on screens, children are struggling to develop appropriate social skills now more than ever before.
As parents, we want to equip our kids to enjoy friendships, interact appropriately with the people in their lives, manage difficult emotions and navigate conflicts. While it’s true that, like all skills, social skills come easier to some than to others, the good news is that social skills are just that, skills. This means they can be learned. With that, it’s important to keep in mind that different skills are needed for different stages of development and different ages. Appropriate social skills for a two-year-old are going to look very different than appropriate social skills for a nine-year-old.
Social skills is an umbrella term that includes many other skills Here are some examples that have a significant impact on a child’s social success. There are many more beyond this list!
Conversation Skills: To be able to participate in a conversation, your child needs to learn skills such as turn taking, how to join a conversation appropriately, and how to end a conversation appropriately. They need to know when and how to greet people, how to use body language and maintain an appropriate distance from others.
Cooperative Play Skills: In order to be able to play with other children, your child needs to know how to share, take turns, and how to reach compromises when they disagree with their peers.
Having Friendships: Your child needs to learn the difference between a good friend and a bad friend, and how to handle bullies. They need to know how to recognize and respect the boundaries of others, and to understand that they can have lots of friends, and their friends can have lots of friends.
Showing Empathy: To be a good friend, your child will need to be able to recognize how others are feeling and how to act and speak in a caring way to help cheer them up.
Conflict Management: Older children need to know how to respond when someone is teasing them, and how to be assertive and stand up for themselves. They need to know how to appropriately accept constructive criticism, and how to respond to bullying.
There are some great books that describe different types of social skills and provide strategies for teaching these skills to your child. We have put together a list of our team’s favorite social skills resources that you can use with your child. If you are teaching your child social skills at home, we highly recommend using one of these resources to help you assess where your child is at, what your child needs to learn, and the best way to teach your child that skill.
Need additional support to teach your child social skills and help them make friends? Discover Hope can help! We offer an online course that teaches you how to help your child make friends, and our skilled team of behaviorists run online social skills groups to teach these skills directly to your child. We’d love to help you and your child succeed!