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4 Best Ways for Parents to Teach Social Skills to Kids
By Jean Tracy, MSS
Parents suffer when kids lack social skills. I remember the mother of a 6th grade girl who had no friends. I was a child counselor and this girl needed friendship skills.
Her mother asked me to visit her daughter's classroom. I noticed how awkward the girl appeared. She walked around the classroom when she should have been doing her work, avoided all eye contact, and wouldn't answer her teacher's questions. My heart went out to her.
Your child may have different social problems, but the result may be the same – no friends. It hurts to know your child is lonely. It's painful to realize that other kids ignore or even dislike her.
4 Easy Steps for Teaching Social Skills
What can you do? Keep reading and you'll find 4 simple steps you can take. Then reinforce what you learned with the short video below this article.
1. Discuss Some Social Skills and Pick One to Practice Each Week
Our Social Skills Kit for Kids offers 50 specific exercises like:
Saying “Hi” with a friendly face
Looking kids in the eye when speaking
Smiling when talking to others
Saying each child's name often
Encouraging the other kid to talk about herself
Talking about the other child's interests
Offering fun ideas for playing together
Suggest your child focus on one skill. After she picks one, ask, “Why did you choose it? How will it help you? Think of a classmate whom you could talk with using this approach. If it doesn't work right away, how can you stay brave and keep trying?”
The purpose of the questions is to help her think clearly, positively, and stay motivated to practice. If she's still hesitant to approach kids socially, then urge her to role-play the skill with you.
2. Role-Play the Friendly Skill with Your Child.
Urge your child to practice the friendly action with you. Take turns playacting your child's part and the other child's response. Giggling is allowed. Make it fun. The next step is to expand the practice.
3. Role-Play the Friendship Skill within Your Family.
As she improves, involve the whole family. Ask everyone to use the skill with each other. If it's smiling and saying “Hi,” urge the members to greet each other after they get up in the morning, when they come home from school, and whenever they've been away. This helps the skill become second nature and easier to perform outside the family.
Encourage your youngster to use the social skill outside your home. ‘But how?' you wonder.
4. Chart the Progress with a Calendar.
Ask whether the whole family is willing to keep track of their social skills. A calendar might work or a chart for each member could be duplicated. Tally marks or stars can be used to make it even more fun. Reward progress. Examples of awards are:
Riding bikes together
Fixing a favorite meal
Playing a favorite game
Creating a treasure hunt
Solving a jigsaw puzzle
Resist the impulse to reward with money or toys. The best rewards include fun times together. Such times create special memories too.
Conclusion for Ways to Help Your Child Learn Social Skills
Teaching friendship skills helps relieve you of worry and helps your child make friends. Discuss the social skill your child wants to learn. Help her think clearly, positively, and stay motivated. Role-play the skill together, then with the family. Chart progress and offer non-material rewards. These 4 simple ways can help your child learn important friendship skills that can foster a lifetime of happy relationships.
Consider picking up our Social Skills Kit with its 50 skills to cut out and practice, a true story to motivate, a calendar to chart progress, and a rewards list with 80 bonding activities.
Don't forget to watch the brief video below.
Here's Your YouTube Video Link 4 Ways Parents and Kids Discuss Social Skills Discuss the ideas with your children and have fun role-playing the friendship skills with them.
Jean Tracy, MSS, publishes a FREE Parenting Newsletter. Subscribe and receive 80 fun activities to share with your children and also receive 101 Cooperation Tips.
Jean's Social Skills Kit for Kids includes 50 Skills to help your child fit in. No more loneliness. Lots more friends. Get yours today.