No one wants to feel left out. Social skills for kids are important not only in building their confidence but also in cultivating meaningful relationships and interactions. Children who struggle to make friends may be excluded from groups at playtime, experience lower self-esteem, and feel lonely.
As much as you want to take their pain away, this is a problem that a parent can’t solve for them. What you can do is help them overcome their difficulties so they can cultivate stronger friendships with their peers. Teach them strong communication skills, cooperation, and how to deal with bullies. Here are some social skills for kids strategies you can share with your child to improve their social abilities.
Listen, don’t lecture.
After a tough day at school, your child may just need your ear. If they can tell you how they’re feeling, they’ll find it easier to work through their emotions. Children may come home in tears if they’ve had social troubles with peers. They see other kids with their friends and wonder, “What’s wrong with me?” Rather than tell your child to do XYZ to make a friend, ask them about what qualities they value in others. Do they like spending time with kids who are friendly, playful, and kind? By guiding them to the answers, children will have an easier time remembering how they should treat others. Empathy goes a long way in helping a child recover from a bad day.
Ask them questions to learn more about the problem.
Talking with your child is the only way to find the root of the problem. While it’s normal for children to have some trouble making friends, something may be wrong if they are frequently upset about it. Give your child space to cool down when they come home in a bad mood, and try to talk to them over dinner. With a little time and patience, they may come to see that what they were upset about was no big deal. If your child is having a hard time socializing at school or they’re dealing with excessive anxiety, you can set up a meeting with a counselor.
Make plans to meet with other kids.
There is one thing you can do to enable your child’s friendships: schedule playdates with other kids for them! If you know other parents, plan to meet with them for dinner and bring your child along. Introducing your kid to someone new can show them how possible it is to make friends. By signing your child up for extracurricular activities like cooking classes or gymnastics, they will be able to meet other kids with common interests. Planning activities like a crafts night will help take the pressure off your child to make conversation. They may find that there’s a lot to talk about when making bracelets or sharing pizza with a peer.
Give them advice about how to build friendships.
When your child began at-home learning, they may have lost touch with their friends. This is the best time to reinforce social skills for kids. Help them transition back to school by sharing useful advice about how to play well with others. Depending on what your child struggles with, advice will differ. Are they too shy? Help your child develop strategies to manage social anxiety, like using a stress toy or doing some deep breathing. Perhaps the most popular kid in class is too busy to be their friend. So why not encourage your child to approach another lonely kid? They’ll find that it may be easier to get along with someone who is also shy. Does your child become frustrated or bossy when they don’t get their way? Try to explain that kids don’t like to be ordered around. Ask your child how they felt when someone treated them that way.
Talk to them about bullying.
Your child’s struggle to make friends might be through no fault of their own. Bullies on the playground can make it difficult for a child to connect with peers. As unfortunate as it is to hear about your child getting harassed, it will help them develop a thicker skin for the adversity they’ll face later in life. Take this opportunity to talk to your child about how not everyone will like them, and that’s okay. You don’t want to be friends with someone who treats you poorly, anyway. Some days are harder than others. People say mean things, don’t play fairly, and may bother you when you want to be left alone. When this happens, you can come home at the end of the day and let go of it. Teach your child de-stressing activities to help them manage negative emotions, like writing down their feelings and talking to a caring adult.
Tomorrow is a new day.
Do you remember how quickly friendships changed when you were a child? One minute, some kid was your worst enemy for stealing your favorite toy. The next day, you played with it together and became best friends. If your child is struggling after a hard day, remind them that tomorrow, they can start all over again. They’ll likely have forgotten all about today’s mishaps when they leave for school the following day.
Even in today’s world of online and remote learning, meeting new friends and forging new relationships are still possible. For Fall 2020-2021, Themba Tutors is offering exciting online classes for your children and teens. Let them explore their creative sides, enjoy fun activities, and meet new friends who share their interests!
Themba Tutors is a New York-based private tutoring company that offers fun, individualized, and dynamic tutoring and coaching services for children and teens. We work one-on-one with students of all ages and provide multidisciplinary, personalized services.
Our learning specialists, academic tutors, and executive functioning coaches provide in-home and online services in New York City, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Long Island, Westchester County, Fairfield County, Connecticut, and sections of New Jersey.
For Fall 2020-2021, we provide:
Online and In-Home Group Pod Tutoring
Academic Coordination for Covid-19
Online Parenting Coaching
Our services include:
Math: Elementary, Middle, High School
Reading: Elementary, Middle, High School
English: Elementary, Middle, High School
Science: Elementary, Middle, High School
Social Study: Elementary, Middle, High School
College: Math, Science, Literature, Writing
Executive Functioning: All Ages, including Study skills
Our special thanks to Veronica W. for this post. Veronica is a childhood educator and blogging enthusiast. Some of her favorite articles can be found on the Kidthink website. Kidthink specializes in offering clinical treatment of mental illness in children aged twelve and under, along with community outreach and training for this type of treatment.