Does your child struggle with social interaction with others? These tips can help you learn How to Help Kids Develop Social Skills.
Social skills deficits can interfere with kids’ ability to make friends and feel accepted. Learn how to help support development in this critical area.
Many kids are able to pick up social skills and their nuances easily through everyday interactions.
But other kids, especially those struggling with developmental disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome and other forms of autism, must be taught these skills directly and individually, and the skills must be practiced and reinforced many times over.
Even then, using these skills may feel stilted and unnatural to these children.
How to Help Kids Develop Social Skills
The Importance of Social Skills
A lack of understanding about the subtleties and reciprocity of social skills can keep kids from fitting in with other kids. It can cause them to feel left out of peer groups and important activities, limiting their experiences and damaging their self esteem.
Because other kids can be impatient and egocentric, they don’t always empathize with other kids’ limitations. Instead, they may choose to shut them out, or worse, make fun of them for being different.
Tips for Youth Workers
It’s important for youth workers to remember that what may seems obvious or “common sense” to adults is not always so for kids. It may be necessary to explain to students why something is inappropriate or offensive.
They may need help learning how to take another person’s perspective. They may require adults to role play situations with them to get the feel for how social interaction works.
Patience is required to help students make the transition from learning skills to applying them in social situations.
Some of the more important social skills, and some ways adults can help foster their development in kids, are listed below:
This skill involves many other subskills that can be role played with kids, such as like starting conversations, keeping confidences, compromising, and sharing.
Additionally, concepts like understanding how others feel and recognizing how one’s actions impact others should be processed with kids on a regular basis to help them begin to consider another’s point of view, another critical component of developing relationships.
Kids with social skills issues may also have trouble managing emotions, which tend to run high during interpersonal conflicts.
Teach kids how to verbalize their feelings using “I statements” and also to read other’s feelings based not only on words but also using body language and other nonverbal cues.
Teach kids how to state problems clearly, how to think through a problem solving model, and how to listen closely when other’s are sharing their perspective.
Kids are asked to cooperate together in groups often, but many lack the needed skills to do so. Kids who are weak in social skills may also be impulsive and self-focused, and may require much supervision in the early stages of group work to ensure that problems can be addressed appropriately.
Adults can also help model skills like sharing, taking turns, listening to other’s opinions, being supportive, and dividing responsibilities fairly, all important for successful group work.
Though positive social interaction may come relatively easily to most kids, there are those that will require training and modeling to become adept at these skills. Though it may be challenging at times, the results are well worth it.