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Want the children in your life to make a good impression? Then these social skills for kids are your key to success!
Have you ever been walking behind someone as you left a store and the door practically slams in your face? Ouch, right?! The person in front of you likely didn’t even recognize that you were walking out behind them. The courteous thing to have done would be for them to hold the door open for you.
This leads us nicely into the topic at hand– social skills. They play an important role in life, though some choose to act otherwise!
We want to see the children in our life succeed and success starts early so let’s get them on the right path!
9 Essential Social Skills For Kids
Children are at the center of their own worlds.
They are learning all about life around them and are constantly making connections from things they are learning to things they know. They want to have what they want when they want it.
It can be a tough learning curve to realize there are others out there that may want the same thing!
Sharing is a skill best taught and learned from a young age. Young babies begin this learning process as they are taught to share toys.
As children grow, they have more opportunities to share even more things such as supplies and games. This can be taught through example and practice.
Give children opportunities to be in situations that require them to share. As was mentioned, this is commonly taught through the sharing of toys. Children can also practice sharing by reading a book with someone else, sitting on the same bench, using art supplies out of the same bucket, breaking the last cookie in half, etc.
#2 Taking Turns
There is a line of children waiting to go down the slide. A young boy pushes his way to the front, jumps ahead andproceeds to slide down. The kids behind are all furious! They were there patiently waiting to go down and this young one pushed his way through.
Why? It is hard to wait when you want something really bad. Going down the slide can be a tempting activity!
Taking turns is an important skill as kiddos learn to navigate new situations with patience and kindness.
As adults we ‘take turns’ all the time. We go shopping and wait in lines to check out with our items. As we drive around we need to obey traffic laws and stop at stop signs and stop lights so others can have a chance to go through the intersection.
I can almost guarantee you have seen (or occasionally been!) impatient at any one of these scenarios. It is helpful to place ourselves in our children’s shoes in a sense to better understand why they may seem to act impulsively or with annoyance.
Provide circumstances where children can practice taking turns.
“Are we there yet?”
The question asked on just about every road trip and just about every mile.
What will teaching patience require? You guessed it, patience.
Younger children are still learning how to communicate and often aren’t sure how to show what they are feeling outside of crying or yelling. Sometimes having adults validate and give words to their emotions can really help them learn.
For example, picture you are waiting for food at a restaurant and your child is getting antsy. You can compliment their behavior and say something like “I know we’ve been waiting awhile. It can be hard to wait but you are doing a great job! Thank you for being patient.”
Keep the child’s age in mind as you set realistic expectations for their patience levels. Try to provide tasks or materials that will help them as they wait. Like having a coloring book or small toy while waiting for your food at the restaurant.
This is likely a question you hear frequently when working with people, children in particular. There are so many things going on it can be hard to focus!
Teaching children to stop and really listen will be a great benefit to them now and as they get older.
We all want to be heard, but to actually hear someone can be easily overlooked. Often times conversations end up with two frustrated people because one or both of them were more concerned about being heard than listening.
I’ve heard a saying that we have two ears and one mouth, meaning we should do twice the amount of listening than speaking.
You may be surprised yourself to find how much you can learn from others by simply listening. Empower children to discover the same.
#5 Using Manners
Please, thank you, excuse me. Each are little words that can go a long way.
As a teacher I tried to reinforce the importance of using manners with peers and adults. If a child approached me and asked politely for help, I attempted to compliment them or acknowledge their polite behavior. “Thank you for asking so nicely, I’d be happy to help you!”
I have been blown away by children who have answered me with a “yes ma’am.” My first thought is always ‘Wow, this child has been well taught!’
Showing respect through the words they use can help children be viewed in a more positive light by those around them.
Being taught to notice others and offer help where needed will melt anyone’s heart. I frequently had observant children in my class who would notice when I was carrying a lot of things and would offer to help. It was very appreciated!
Teach children to notice others around them. Hold the door open for someone, pick up a dropped item, offer a compliment, be sincere.
#6 Positive Attitude
Attitude doesn’t just make a difference, it makes the difference.
Have you ever been in a rainstorm and on one side you see a grumpy lady holding tightly to her jacket and umbrella and on the other side a child splashing happily from puddle to puddle?
It’s all about attitude. Life happens, how we react to it will make or break us.
Children can learn how to respond positively when something doesn’t go their way.
The toy they went shopping for was sold out, the child can throw a fit or shrug their shoulders and choose something else.
People with a positive attitude radiate happiness and attract others because of the joy they emanate.
We’d love for children to continue to radiate and feel this kind of happiness!
#7 Saying Sorry
Apologizing can be a difficult thing.
Children (and adults) can sometimes say their sorry in a huffy, insincere sort of way. This just won’t do.
Our purpose in supporting children’s growth is to help each one become a respectful and contributing member of society.
This growth can be aided as children learn to own their mistakes and apologize for wrongs they may have done.
Even if they are walking too closely and bump into someone, a sincere “I’m sorry” can smooth the situation over in a hurry.
Learning to say sorry when you may have hurt someone else’s feelings can be very helpful in building and strengthening relationships.
#8 Working Together
Two children building a tower of Legos can turn into quite the masterpiece. Listening to their chatter as they build can be entertaining and insightful.
Can we add a few more to the top? Here, hold this part so I can link these off to the side. Did you get the other color on? How can we make it stronger so it doesn’t fall over?
Learning to work together and to gain a better understanding of the saying “two heads are better than one” will prove to be a lifelong skill. As children practice working with others they learn patience, empathy, new skills, teamwork, and a myriad of other things.
Working together will also teach children to appreciate new and different ideas and how to connect with people who think differently than they do. This will prepare them for future success in work and family circumstances that require them to work together with other people.
#9 Identifying Emotions
Emotions are present in every situation. Among other things we can be happy, sad, angry, and scared.
Our emotions can switch in a moments time, for the good or bad, in response to a new situation.
We walk into our house to find everything is clean and dinner is on the table, we feel very happy! Traffic is backed up for miles and we are already late for work, we feel angry.
Children are also feeling these emotions, but are still in the learning stages of how to cope with them. They need to learn that first- it is ok to feel varying emotions. Sometimes something might make us sad or angry.
It’s ok to feel these, but it is what we do next that determines whether our following actions are appropriate. Do we lash out verbally or physically? Do we take a moment to calm ourselves before responding?
Children need to learn tools of how to identify and react appropriately to their emotions.
One of the most effective tools we have in teaching these skills to children is by providing a consistent example. Actions speak louder than words. Children can pick up on things very quickly. If we tell them to act one way but we choose to act another way they will quickly recognize the hypocrisy and most likely not do what we have asked. We want to avoid the motto “do as I say not as I do”. Instead we can “practice what we preach” and show them through our actions. Good luck demonstrating and teaching social skills!
Thank you for stopping by! (See what I did there?!)
What are other social skills you feel are important for children to learn? Have you found fun ways to teach them? Please share any comments or questions below!
Click here to check out some fun Social Skills Activity Products!
Click here to read Why Play is Important for Children