Friendships and social interaction are vital for healthy self-esteem. But these skills don’t come naturally to everyone. Developing social skills takes practice, and you can help your child by rehearsing social situations and role-playing ahead of time. Children view their caregivers as role models for behaving and responding in different situations. They watch, learn, and mimic the social behaviors and interactions of adults around them. When teaching social skills, try breaking them down into small, manageable steps. Give your child plenty of encouragement for each goal they reach. Keep reading for more tips to help develop your child’s social skills.
Engage in Their Interests
Enjoying interacting with others will come more naturally when a child is doing something they are genuinely interested in. Whether participating in a favorite sport, playing an instrument they like, or being part of a club, this is the first step toward building social skills. While it’s helpful to be able to socialize with those of different interests, beginning with other kids who share the same interests is an excellent way to build social skills more easily.
When children get nervous or a conversation slows, they may become more introverted and struggle in future social situations. Luckily, there are several ways children can initiate and carry on positive conversations with others. One meaningful way is to ask questions. The best way to learn about others and form connections is to ask questions about the other person. Encourage your child to ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no.
Practice Role Playing
Role-playing is an excellent way for kids of all ages to practice their social skills actively. Have your child pretend to be someone they have trouble talking to or getting along with. This will let you know what this person is like or how your child perceives this particular person. Then switch roles to see what your child does when interacting with the person. Suggest ways your child can more effectively hold a conversation.
Know Your Child’s Limits
Some kids are just more social than others. A shy and introverted child should not be expected to interact the same way as a naturally outgoing child. Some children are comfortable in large groups, while others find it easier to relate to their peers one-on-one. It’s also essential to understand your child’s time limits. Younger children and those with autism or anxiety may only feel comfortable socializing for an hour or two.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.