Few things can be more frustrating than watching your child struggle to make friends or having a difficult time fitting into certain social settings. There are several steps parents can take to improve their child’s social skills.
1. Follow Their Interests
Enjoying others will come more naturally when a child is doing something they are genuinely interested in. Whether it’s participating in a favorite sport, playing an instrument they like or being part of a club they’re interested in, this is the first step toward building social skills. It also places a child around like-minded individuals that the child will probably feel more at ease with. While it’s important to be able to socialize with those of varying interests, starting out with other kids who like the same things is an excellent way to more easily build social skills.
2. Learn to Ask Questions
Sometimes when children get nervous or a conversation lags, they may become more introverted and ultimately struggle in future social situations. According to the Center for Development & Learning there are several ways children can initiate and carry on positive conversations with others. One important way is to ask questions. The best way to find out about others and form connections is to ask questions that specifically pertain to the person the child is talking with. Encourage your child to ask questions that can’t be answered with just a yes or no.
3. Practice Role Playing
Pretend-play, with both younger and older children, is a great way for kids to actively practice their social skills. LD Online gives parents practical tips for effective role playing. Have your child pretend to be the person they have difficulty talking to or getting along with. This will give you an idea of what this person is like, or at least how your child perceives this particular person. Then switch roles to see how your child does when pretending to interact with the person. Suggest ways your child can more effectively talk with the individual. Don’t forget to include body language, such as smiling and making eye contact, when advising your child.
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