Raising children requires focusing on their physical, mental, and emotional health. However, there is more, especially because children must be taught to fit into social circles. Building their social skills is critical and must be given the utmost attention as you do for their physical, emotional and mental health. Considering that 1 in 10 children in the UK lack basic social skills, it would be good to nurture these and build confidence in your young ones. Below are a few creative ways to do so.
- Encourage cooperative play
Does your child like to play alone and is uninterested in joining others? While this may not be a problem in some cases, it becomes a cause for concern when it persists longer than necessary. In sharp contradiction, when your child is actively involved in a play activity and shows interest in doing so with others, that is often a good sign. Child experts say that is the fundamental element in cooperative play. Such play triggers tolerance, enhances effective communication and builds team teamwork in children. These elements can significantly affect how your children relate to others in adulthood. You can encourage cooperative play by providing your kids with games and activities requiring group effort. These include board games, building blocks, or anything that boosts their social skills.
- Organise social outings
Social outings are a practical way to test your child’s social skills after coaching them for a period. They are perfect for your children to meet others, especially their peers, and engage in interactive activities. It can be a playdate at home, a movie night or a playground activity. With the warmer months approaching, you can send them to summer holiday camps to build or strengthen their social skills. In these settings, your child will learn to make new friends, maintain existing friendships, build confidence, and thrive socially and emotionally. One way to assess your child’s social skills usage is to engage them in conversations which allows you to ask questions about how they reacted to different situations. You can then use this moment to correct any loophole you pick up on.
- Try role-playing or character play
Many young children have imaginary friends they like to interact with. It provides an excellent opportunity to build their social skills. You can start by bringing out your child’s favourite toys and ask your young ones to get into character. For example, encourage your daughter to converse with their best-loved doll or stuffed toy. The theme can be a tea party while you guide the conversation to see how your child interacts with these dolls. Child psychologists say role-playing is great for shaping behaviours in children. For example, if your child wants to blow out birthday cake candles, even when not theirs, you can use role-playing as a corrective therapy. Let them play the role of a birthday celebrant, and just before they blow out the candle on a muffin, you do it. After that, ask your child how your actions made them feel. If it upsets them, explain to your child how others feel when they do it.
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