How to promote social skills in children

Promoting social skills in children is essential so that they can function adequately in different contexts , from family and school to the group of peers. The first years of life are particularly important because they lay the foundation for the development of these skills through secure attachment and solid self-esteem. That is why parents and educators must promote social skills in children from an early age.

What are social skills in children?

Social skills are the set of behaviors that a person displays in interpersonal contexts to express their feelings, opinions or wishes while respecting others. Therefore, they imply an effective and satisfactory way of relating to all that allows solving conflicts, minimizing problems and strengthening emotional ties.

There are different social skills that can be developed from childhood, such as empathy, assertiveness, emotional self-control, active listening, communication, cooperation, emotional validation, conflict resolution and negotiation.

The importance of social skills in children

Children who develop adequate social skills understand themselves and others better , so they tend to have fewer conflicts and are less prone to bullying. In fact, these are children who communicate better, can express their feelings and needs directly, and assertively assert their rights.

Children with social skills can make friends easily because they project a more positive image, so they have a stronger support network. They also tend to be more successful in school, develop good self-esteem, and become more self-confident , which makes it easier for them to adjust into adult life.

How to promote social skills in children?

Social skills in children begin to develop through relationships with their parents and then are consolidated in school and extracurricular settings, through the relationships they establish with other children and adults. Both in the family and school context, it is essential to implement social skills activities for children that allow them to learn and improve their skills.

  • Practice active listening. Children do not usually have much self-control, so they often do not respect the turns of the conversation and interrupt. Therefore, one of the activities to develop social skills in children is to teach them to listen without interrupting, so that they can understand the message of their interlocutor.
  • Facilitate emotional expression. Social skills involve knowing how to assertively express emotions. There are different social skills games for children that will help them to recognize and express their feelings appropriately, such as the stoplight of emotions, through which they will become aware of their own and others’ affective states.
  • Enrich the social language. Social skills demand a rich vocabulary that facilitates expression. For this reason, children should get used to using words that help them express their gratitude and appreciation, but also to apologize when they make a mistake, such as “thank you”, “please” or “excuse me.”
  • Foster empathy. Empathy helps to understand how others feel, which is why it is one of the most important social skills in children. They can be told about different situations and asked how they think other people are feeling. In this way, children will learn to put themselves in their shoes, connect with others and establish more positive bonds.

In a general sense, social skills activities for children are based on modeling competencies so that adults become positive role models. It is also essential that children have opportunities to test their social skills, so that they can develop a tolerant attitude, learn to resolve interpersonal conflicts and express themselves with assertiveness in respect for others.

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