Pick up any paper and you’ll see a rant from someone (usually a Baby Boomer) about how ‘the youth of today’ have no social skills.
It’ll talk about how they have their heads in their phones and never play outside, kick a can down the street or catch fish from a river. They’ll be moaning about the death of socialisation and what this means for our society (the Apocalypse, if you listen to talk back radio).
However, step inside today’s classrooms and you’ll see that children are still able to socialise. They can talk (using words! Out loud!) to each other. They can use eye contact. They can listen to opinion and involve themselves in conversation.
Social skills aren’t dead. They just don’t look exactly the same as they used to.
If you’ve got young children and you’re wondering about how you can promote social skills in them, here are some great ideas you might like to try.
Social Skills: The Play Date
Ahhhh, the play date. Not only is this a great way for you to work on your own social skills (hello, other adults) but this is a great opportunity for your young children to learn some important social skills of their own.
While you’re chatting, your kids will be negotiating toy usage. They’ll be dealing with elation and disappointment. They’ll be engaging in verbal and non-verbal communication. Admittedly, they’ll probably squabble but that’s actually what they’re supposed to do! It’s all part of the socialisation process.
Social Skills: The Lost Art of Conversation
Children learn by osmosis, which means they can pick up relevant information that’s going on around them and in the background.
If you’re anywhere with your kids, their little ears are always listening. Narrate what you’re doing (not in a weird way, more in a “I’m unpacking the dishwasher and putting the bowls away” or “I’m shopping online” kind of way) and watch how quickly your child can pick up these language cues. They’ll learn intonation, conversation and new words and phrases quicker than you can say “What is that? Get that out of your mouth!”.
Social Skills: Monkey See, Monkey Do
Take your child out and about as much as possible. Let them see for themselves how different people negotiate socialisation. Let them watch people standing in line, paying at the cash register, loading groceries onto the conveyor belt and parking their cars. Observation is key as communication cannot be learnt in a vacuum so get your children out into the world as much as possible.
How did you teach your young children social skills? Got any great ideas? Let us know in the comments!
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