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Monday, May 13, 2019

How to Cultivate Positive Social Skills in Children Starting From an Early Age

Photo by Nicolo Bonazzi (Flickr)

I've always found that one of the most rewarding and challenging parts of parenting has been watching my girls develop socially. Watching them make friends, teaching them how to have positive interactions with others, and helping them develop manners takes a lot of thought, and it seems like the job is never done! The good news is that there are many fun play activities that can help kids start learning good social skills at an early age. Teachers, parents, and guardians can use these fun activities to help kids develop their social skills.

Know the Milestones

You and your kids should focus on different sets of social skills and abilities depending on their age. Here are a few milestones to look out for and work on, depending on the age of the kids in your care.

2-to-3-year-olds: Kids this age should be comfortable saying their "hi" and "bye" greetings. They're also able to understand that they should not interrupt and will wait their turn to talk. You might also find that their sense of humor is developing and they giggle at jokes!

3-to-4-year-olds: Kids in this age group should be able to start a conversation with their words now. You'll also find them interacting with toys as if they're humans. You can also play games with them that require them to wait their turn.

4-to-5-year-olds: These kids are more cooperative when playing with others than younger children are. They're able to make and follow direct requests like "stop" or "wait."

5-to-6-year-olds: "Please," "thank you," and "sorry" should all be used regularly by children in this age bracket. They should also understand what bad language is and have a concept of playing fair and good sportsmanship.

6-to-7-year-olds: These kids should have a sense of empathy. They'll communicate with gestures, tell jokes, and express their point of view. Despite this, they won't always totally grasp the difference between right and wrong.

Fun Play Activities for Strong Social Skills

These are some activities that will help kids develop their social skills:

  1. Teach children about personal space. I recommend the book Personal Space Camp as a fun read. You can even have kids design their own "personal space planet" to better understand the concept.
  2. Encourage pretend play. When kids act out scenarios with dolls and toys, it helps them to learn empathy.
  3. Read books from around the world to children. This will help them appreciate and respect diversity.
  4. Have kids identify different tones of voice with emotion. You can do this with a tape recording, or you can look for opportunities to quiz them while they watch TV.
  5. Make a collage with different facial expressions. Ask your kid what they think the people in the collage might be feeling.
  6. If you're trying to teach a group of young children to take turns, have them sit in a circle and roll a ball to each other. Before they roll the ball, they should call out the child they're rolling to by name and make eye contact with them.

Have you tried any of these activities? Let me know if your kids liked them or if you have other ideas!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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