Social skills are the set of abilities that allow people to interact with others. Social skills can be taught, and they can also be learned through experience.
Young kids’ worlds usually center around themselves.
Hence, for many kids, it’s hard to grasp the idea of sharing, taking turns, or empathizing with others.
But teaching social skills is not easy. It takes continuous effort to learn social skills and put those skills into practice.
Therefore, it’s ideal to start teaching kids from a young age (from when they start interacting with kids of their age) about the basics of social skills.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TEACH SOCIAL SKILLS TO KIDS?
Social skills are important to have, in order to be successful in the modern world.
In today’s society, social skills are essential for many professions. You can’t make it without them.
Here are some of the benefits of developing good social skills for kids:
1. Better friendships
With better social skills, kids can get along with others, express their emotions and thoughts effectively, and solve problems that involve other people.
Social skills are not just about being polite and kind; they also involve being able to disagree with others without getting angry or upset.
So this helps them to build good relationships with kids of their age. It helps them to be happier. And through the relationships, they develop more interpersonal skills as well.
2. Better mental health
Kids who learn to communicate effectively with others are shown to have lesser secretion of the stress hormone cortisol.
When kids are away from home for a long time (like in a school environment), most young kids experience challenges with controlling their emotions and sharing their personal space/belonging with others. But with practice, they learn to deal with problems and learn to get along with others, which leads to better relationships and less stress.
Because better social skills lead to better relationships, our bodies release happy hormones with each interaction keeping them in good mental health.
3. Stronger self-esteem
Kids who feel competent socially tend not only to have higher self-esteem, but also more positive views of themselves than those who struggle with their social abilities. This increased confidence can help kids tackle challenges later on in life – from schoolwork to dating.
Children who are socially savvy tend to feel happier and more confident overall. They’re less likely to suffer from feelings of loneliness or isolation and are more comfortable communicating with others.
4. Increased resilience
Kids who develop good social skills learn how to cope with stressful situations well – whether that means managing negative emotions or staying calm under pressure when interacting with others.
In turn, this builds resilience during tough times down the road (such as when faced with bullying at school or during a personal crisis).
Related: 101 interesting questions to ask kids for fun and to promote resilience and critical thinking
5. Greater ability to network and cooperate
Those fortunate enough to excel socially often find it easier than others to establish new connections across various fields (i.e, work colleagues, friends from different neighborhoods/cultures/backgrounds), which comes in handy during multiple stages of one’s life journey (for example finding mentorships along the way).
They’re also better at problem-solving because they know how to approach difficult situations calmly and rationally. A good understanding of cooperative behavior is crucial for success in the classroom setting.
When kids have better social skills, they have an enhanced ability to cooperate with others, which is necessary to live in a society and have good relationships at school, work, and marriage. When kids are able to cooperate with others well, they are more likely to succeed in work and in life.
6. Better emotional regulation skills
Effective communicators know how to handle difficult conversations calmly and effectively, without resorting to anger or violence. They also know how to resolve conflicts peacefully and constructively.
This allows them to build strong relationships and friendships, which is critical for positive development throughout life.
Good social skills also help kids cope with stressors in their everyday lives. When children know how to properly manage emotions and communicate effectively with others, they’re less likely to experience stress or anxiety on the job or during challenging situations at home.
Related: 15 incredibly fun games to teach self-regulation to kids
Now that we know the benefits of developing better social skills for kids, here are 20 important social skills to teach kids.
LIST OF BASIC SOCIAL SKILLS TO TEACH KIDS
1. Understanding emotions
One of the most important things that kids can learn is, understanding and empathizing with other people’s emotions.
When kids are able to do this, it will help them build better relationships and social skills. And, in turn, they’ll be better equipped to handle difficult situations down the road.
There are a number of ways you can encourage your child to develop empathy.
You can talk about different emotions with them and teach them how to identify them on other people’s faces.
You could also have children role-play scenarios where they have to think about what someone else is feeling before making a decision or speaking out loud. The more your child understands emotion, the easier it will be for him or her when faced with similar challenges in life.
Teaching empathy to kids is key in developing kind, respectful kids who are in tune with other people’s feelings and respond appropriately in social situations.
Related: 125 simple random acts of kindness ideas for kids to make someone’s day
When it comes to social skills, sharing is key. Sharing means taking something that isn’t yours and giving it to someone else without expecting anything in return. It’s the perfect way to build relationships and learn how to help others.
Sharing also teaches children how to be patient and take turns.
When kids are taught these important social skills early on, they’re better equipped for life outside of the home. In fact, studies show that children who learn how to share at a young age tend to have stronger social networks as adults, which can lead them to successful careers or positive relationships.
Kids who learn how to share will get along better with others. Sharing makes everyone happier because it reduces conflict and enhances communication.
3. Resolving conflicts
There are several benefits to learning how to resolve conflicts effectively.
First, it can help kids build strong relationships with others. When disputes happen, being able to work together towards a common goal helps foster trust and friendship between individuals.
Second, good conflict resolution skills can help youngsters become better problem solvers. They’ll be able to identify and solve problems efficiently and troubleshoot when things go wrong without running to an adult immediately- key life skills that come in handy no matter what field you’re interested in pursuing!
Finally, building up these skills early on will set children up for success later on – whether they’re trying out new careers or navigating tricky teenage years.
There are many ways that kids can learn how to resolve conflicts effectively.
One way is through role-playing exercises.
For example, you could take your child on a pretend to trip and have him or her play all the different roles necessary for traveling (flight crew member, luggage handler, etc). Then have them practice negotiating deals and resolving disagreements during the trip.
Another approach is using simulations such as computer games or board games. These activities help children learn about problem-solving and decision-making under pressure.
And here are more ways to teach conflict-resolution skills:
- Help your child identify their feelings and express them in a calm and respectful way.
- Teach your child to listen actively and try to understand the other person’s perspective.
- Encourage your child to brainstorm solutions and find a compromise that works for everyone.
- Model healthy conflict resolution by resolving conflicts in a respectful and calm way yourself.
- How to control anger with kids and become a calm mom
- Why am I an angry mom? 7 anger triggers for moms and how to deal with them
4. Learning how to build good relationships with their peers (and grownups)
Building strong relationships is one of the key skills that kids need to thrive in society. And it is one of the hardest things to do as well.
To build good relationships and maintain them, kids require a lot of emotional control, patience, cooperation, empathy, etc.
If your child has difficulty handling negative emotions and if they lash out at others unjustly, he/she is likely to get rejected by peers easily.
The fact is, even many adults have a hard time controlling their emotions, so it’s not an easy thing. And kids are bound to make a lot of mistakes while they find their way to build good relationships.
For this reason, teaching them all the other social skills mentioned in this post will help them pave the way towards improving their behavior little by little, and also learn a ton of lessons on their way to reaching adulthood.
Also, always encourage good communication with kids. This will lead them to share many stories from their life and help you to know how they are growing their social skills. You can help them with their mistakes and make sure you don’t react too harshly to their mistakes.
5. Practicing empathy
Empathy is one of the key skills that kids need to develop in order to be successful in social settings. When we are able to empathize with other people, it enables us to understand their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This allows us to build better relationships and interact more effectively with others.
Practicing empathy not only benefits children socially, but it also has long-term consequences for their mental health.
According to a study published in the journal PLOS One, adults who practiced empathy as children were less likely to experience psychiatric problems later on in life.
In addition, they had superior self-esteem and greater compassion for others than those who did not practice empathy as children.
There are many reasons why practicing empathy can have such positive effects on both child development and adult mental health. Two of them are:
- When kids are able or willing to put themselves into someone else’s shoes (even if they’re fictional characters), they become aware of different perspectives and begin developing critical thinking skills. This understanding leads them down a path toward intellectual curiosity and creativity – two vital ingredients for success in any field or activity.
- Empathizing with others helps reduce stress levels by calming our emotions down instead of fueling anger or frustration because we are able to understand how others feel too.
6. Respecting personal space
Respect for personal space is crucial for developing good social skills.
When kids understand that everyone has their own territory, they are less likely to invade someone else’s space without consent.
When they don’t understand what personal space means, their behavior can bother others. And it can lead to negative interactions in school, at home, and elsewhere.
Young kids often do not know that adults and even their siblings have personal space. I have seen this often in my kids: one is introverted and the other is extroverted.
My extroverted kid has the need to keep talking all day every day no matter what, and my introverted girl needs lots of quiet and personal space. So there is a lot of friction among them due to this. And I have set on to teach them about how everyone has a personal space around them that should be respected.
In kids, these may lead to a lot of sibling squabbles. So, teaching to respect their sibling’s personal space is a good place to start talking about personal space and boundaries.
Plus, respecting personal space is also polite! It shows your fellow humans that you value their time and feelings enough not to take them lightly.
Patience is critical for social development.
But advancement in technology has given birth to kids who don’t have patience because, in today’s world, everything is instantly available.
So why is it so important for kids to learn how to have patience?
There are several reasons:
- When kids feel frustrated or angry, they tend not to listen carefully or think about what the other person is saying. Instead, they focus on their own feelings and react impulsively. This often results in arguments that are neither productive nor satisfying for either party involved.
- By practicing patience early on, children build resilience against difficult situations as they age. They learn that difficulties can be overcome by taking things one step at a time instead of getting overwhelmed immediately. In short, kids who are patient usually end up being happier people!
- Developing patience helps kids to chase their goals which may take time. It is essential for kids to know that not everything is instantly achievable and sometimes you need to put in a lot of effort over time to achieve meaningful things.
- Patience is required to build and maintain good relationships in life. So teaching patience is also necessary for them to be successful in the community.
8. Working as a team and cooperating with others
When kids are working collaboratively, they’re learning to think about problems from a different perspective and how to solve them.
They also learn how to work as part of a group, which is important for developing good social skills. In addition, when kids are collaborating with others, it teaches them that working together can be fun and rewarding.
If you examine toddlers you can find that most kids’ worlds are focused on themselves. They are the center of their world. But many kids learn to share as they grow up.
Working as a team will help in enhancing their sense of responsibility to other people.
Working in a team may bring up different issues for kids, like differences in opinion, having to share, etc. which are not easy for them.
Encouraging them to work in teams will help in developing many other social skills that are important for them to succeed in life.
9. Accept defeat or failure gracefully
It is important for kids to learn how to accept defeat or failure gracefully.
This ability is key to developing resilience. There are several reasons why accepting defeat or failure gracefully is so important.
First, it teaches children that disappointment isn’t always fatal. They may feel sad or frustrated at first, but eventually, they will realize that there’s nothing wrong with feeling down after falling short of expectations. In fact, learning how to handle setbacks can actually be helpful in the long run!
Second, accepting defeat or failure gracefully enables kids to move on from their setbacks more quickly. They won’t dwell on what went wrong and instead focus on what they can do next time around. This mindset has been shown to lead to better results in virtually every area of life.
And lastly, acceptance allows kids to build integrity into their character. By struggling through tough times without giving up (even if things don’t go according to plan), young people can demonstrate strong moral values and gain valuable experience that’ll help them become strong in the face of adversity.
10. Apologizing when necessary
It is never too late to learn how to apologize properly.
We all make mistakes all the time, and it is important to know how to deal with the consequences of one’s actions.
Apologizing can help children feel better about themselves, build better relationship skills, and develop good communication habits.
There are several benefits that come from learning how to apologize:
- Kids will feel a sense of relief and satisfaction after apologizing, and this reduces stress levels, making them happier in life
- Apologizing teaches children the importance of taking responsibility for their actions. It also helps them learn empathy and understand others’ feelings
- Apologizing can help kids not develop spiteful behavior. When someone wrongs us, our immediate reaction may be anger or revenge. But oftentimes we should instead try communicating our feelings in an understanding way – through an apology if necessary. This can restore trust between the two parties and prevent future conflict.
So, how to teach your child how to apologize?
There are a few simple steps that you can take to help your child learn how to apologize properly:
- Start by modeling the behavior yourself. Let your children know that when they make a mistake, they should always try to say sorry as soon as possible. This will help them understand what an apology is and why it’s important.
- Make sure your children know the right time and the place for apologizing. And also teach them to take responsibility for their own mistakes and not to blame others for them.
- Help your child understand why apologies are usually accepted. Explain things like “an apology shows respect” or “apologizing means taking responsibility”. This way, young minds won’t get confused about whether or not apologizing actually works out well in the end!
11. Using manners
It’s important for kids to learn how to properly interact with others, and manners are a great way to start. Here are the reasons why using manners is so important:
- Manners help children build trustworthiness and respectability. When kids display good manners, they’re likely to be respected by their peers. This can lead to smoother interactions and builds stronger relationships overall.
- Manners teach children how to compromise when needed. Sometimes it may be necessary for kids to give up something they want so as to not hurt someone else’s feelings or cause a scene. By learning how to navigate these situations politely, they’ll be more prepared when dealing with similar conflicts in the future.
- Manners encourage positive social behavior habits early on. Whether it’s being respectful towards others or following common rules of etiquette, displaying proper courtesies sets a good example for our younger generations. Doing this from an early age will create lifelong benefits that will impact all aspects of life.
Related: 25 basic good manners all kids must learn
12. Following directions
Following directions can help them learn how to interact positively and productively with others, no matter what the situation may be.
It also helps them learn to take care of themselves – whether they are in a group setting or on their own – by following simple rules and guidelines.
So what should parents do when their child isn’t following directions?
The first step is to remain calm and refrain from using harsh language or raising your voice.
Instead, try explaining the situation calmly and in a concise way (without providing too much information at once).
Next, offer assistance as needed – if you’re helping the child dress in his pajamas, for example, help him put them on slowly and carefully so he understands exactly what needs to be done each step of the way.
Finally, rewards are always a good idea – give your child verbal praise or small gifts after he follows all of the directions! This will teach him that following directions is a pleasant thing.
13. Perspective-taking and accepting differences
Perspective-taking is an important social skill that will help kids to understand other people’s perspectives and understand their viewpoints. It helps them to empathize with others, help those in need, be a good listener, and offer kindness to someone who needs a listening ear.
To teach kids perspective-taking, the first step you can take is modeling. There will be many moments you disagree with their opinions or you feel hard to understand their feelings.
Instead of forcing your perspective on them, try to put yourself in their shoes, and say words like
I can understand how you feel
It must be so hard for you to deal with this
Even though I feel different in the same situations, your perspective can be true too
These words teach kids subtle ways of empathizing with others, and teach them how to ‘agree to disagree’.
14. Accepting differences
Learning to accept differences is key for kids as they develop social skills. When children are able to accept other people for who they are, it helps them build relationships and tolerance towards others.
It also teaches them that everyone has their own unique set of experiences and perspectives which can be valuable in the world.
When parents model this type of behavior, it sets a positive example for their children. Kids learn that difference is okay – and even desirable – when it’s accepted with kindness and respect.
This helps create a healthy foundation for later life struggles such as bullying or discrimination based on race, gender, or disability status.
Acceptance is important because when we embrace different perspectives, we become more flexible and open-minded ourselves. And that makes us much better people – both inside our homes and in the wider world around us!
Read stories or books on accepting different races and people with disabilities. This teaches them how they can live in a world where people look entirely different from them and have choices that are different from them, but still, everyone can coexist peacefully.
15. Making eye contact
When it comes to social skills, making eye contact is a key part of the equation. Unfortunately, many kids today don’t learn how to make eye contact early on in life. This can have serious consequences down the line when it comes to forming relationships and developing social confidence.
Eye contact is especially important for kids during interactions with others their own age.
When they make eye contact, children are demonstrating that they’re interested in what the other person has to say and want to continue conversing. It also shows that they trust the other person enough not to run away or withdraw from the interaction prematurely.
Making good use of facial expressions can help enhance a child’s overall communication experience too!
A wide smile conveys happiness and encouragement, while an eyebrow raised indicates interest or surprise. By paying attention to these subtle cues and using them as opportunities for dialogue, kids will be able to build healthy relationships from an early stage.
There are many ways to encourage children to make eye contact – start by using simple encouragement words like “Look at me!” or “Keep looking at me!”.
Then, if your child doesn’t seem interested in what you’re saying, take the opportunity to reinforce the importance of making good eye contact by pointing out how important it is to communicate effectively and build trust with others.
16. Dealing with anger and frustration
Anger and frustration are two powerful emotions that kids can feel. When anger is allowed to build up, it can lead to aggression or violence.
On the other hand, when frustration is allowed to build up, it can lead to destructive behaviors like vandalism or poor academic performance.
So how do you encourage your kids to deal effectively with these emotions?
The first step is recognizing that anger and frustration exist – even when they don’t feel them actively.
Start by talking about what’s going on inside their head (and heart!). This will help them understand why they’re feeling the way that they are, and it will make it easier for them to express themselves appropriately later on.
Once your kids know how to identify their feelings, it’s important for them to develop healthy ways of dealing with those emotions. Research has shown that resolving disputes peacefully is one of the best ways to avoid aggression later on.
Teach your children how negotiation works (even if you think negotiating isn’t fun!), provide plenty of opportunities for constructive dialogues, set limits judiciously when necessary, offer encouragement during challenging situations, etc.
17. Active listening
What is active listening? Simply put, it’s when you listen attentively and pay attention to the person speaking without interrupting or supplying your own thoughts.
You should also refrain from offering any advice or opinion until the speaker has finished expressing themselves fully. Doing this gives the speaker a sense of control over their conversation and allows them to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts freely.
The ability to listen is one of the best communication skills you can teach kids. Good listeners are well-liked by others because people need listening ears.
Because don’t we all feel better when we talk to someone who listens to us intensively and does not interrupt us frequently to talk about themselves?
Good listeners are able to empathize with others and thus give them the opportunity to communicate well and build true relationships.
18. Learning to accept feedback
It can be difficult to do at times, but it’s important that they’re able to handle negative feedback in a constructive way. When kids are able to accept and process criticism constructively, it builds their ability to cope with different situations later on in life.
It teaches them how to think critically about their actions and reactions. This is an especially valuable skill set when they reach adulthood and start working or living independently.
Additionally, giving feedback helps them understand what they need to work on. And finally, the act of openly talking about mistakes allows kids to have opportunities for personal growth and improvement in future relationships.
If we are always into criticizing kids, it can lower their self-esteem and cause them to develop a negative identity about themselves.
Hence, there should be a balance between praise, appreciation, and negative feedback.
Related: 20 worst things parents should never tell kids
19. Think twice before speaking
They also need to be taught how to think before they speak – otherwise, they could wind up saying something that can damage their reputation or cause conflict.
It’s helpful for children to develop the ability to take a moment and consider what they are going to say before opening their mouths.
Additionally, be sure not to speak for kids instead of letting them talk for themselves – let them take control of their conversations by answering questions straightforwardly and respectfully rather than giving advice or making assumptions about their knowledge or understanding level.
This will help kids to practice speaking skills and learn from the mistakes they make while doing so.
20. Good Hygiene
It also helps to improve social skills, as children who are well-cared for look and feel more confident in social settings. When kids are properly cleaned and dressed, they’re less likely to feel self-conscious or embarrassed when interacting with others.
Here are some ways that good hygiene can help your child develop socially:
- Make sure children shower regularly. Bathing not only cleans them physically, but it also removes dirt, sweat, oils, and other contaminants that may be causing skin irritation or infection. In addition to washing their body thoroughly, make sure they wash their hair regularly too.
- Practice proper handwashing techniques. Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent infection of any kind.
Related: 12 healthy habits all parents must teach their kids
So, how do you know if your child has good social skills or not? Because to improve their skills, we must know where they excel in or where they feel difficulty in.
Here are some specific signs to look out for.
Signs of Poor Social Skills in children
If you notice that your child is struggling to make friends or maintain relationships with peers, it may be a sign that they have poor social skills. Some signs of poor social skills are:
Difficulty making friends
If your child has trouble making friends, they may be experiencing some of the following issues:
- They struggle to initiate conversations or join in group activities.
- They have a hard time reading social cues, such as body language or tone of voice.
- They may seem awkward or uncomfortable in social situations.
Lack of empathy
Children with poor social skills may also struggle to understand and respond to the emotions of others. Some signs of a lack of empathy include:
- They may seem indifferent or uninterested in the feelings of others.
- They may have difficulty expressing their own emotions, which can make it hard for them to connect with others.
- They may struggle to understand why certain behaviors or actions might hurt someone else’s feelings.
Inability to communicate effectively
Finally, poor social skills can also manifest as difficulty communicating with others. Some signs of this issue include:
- They may struggle to express themselves clearly or effectively.
- They may interrupt others frequently or struggle to take turns in conversation.
- They may have trouble understanding the perspectives of others or responding appropriately to their concerns.
If you notice any of these signs in your child, it may be helpful to work with them on developing their social skills.
It’s not hard to work on. As a parent, you will have to put in some effort for that. But that’s what parents do, right?
Here are some helpful tips to work on a child’s social skills.
How to improve a child‘s social skills and relationship with peers
Role-playing is an excellent way to help your child practice social skills in a safe environment. You can simulate social situations with your child and teach them how to respond appropriately. For example, you can pretend to be a peer who wants to play with your child, and your child can practice responding positively.
Social skills groups
Social skills groups provide children with the opportunity to practice social skills with peers in a structured environment. These groups are led by trained professionals who teach social skills and provide feedback to children. Social skills groups can be especially helpful for children who struggle with social anxiety or have difficulty making friends.
Encouraging playdates is an excellent way to help your child build social skills. Playdates provide children with the opportunity to practice social skills in a relaxed, informal setting. You can invite your child’s classmates or neighbors over for a playdate, or you can arrange a playdate through your child’s school or extracurricular activities.
In conclusion, improving social skills is essential for children to build healthy relationships with their peers. Role-playing, social skills groups, and encouraging playdates are effective ways to help your child improve their social skills. And the most important part parents should not miss is demonstrating the skills themselves to the best of their ability.