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6 Helpful Social Skills You Should Start Teaching Your Child Now

by Vannessa Rhoades 16 Feb 2023
6 Helpful Social Skills You Should Start Teaching Your Child Now

Teaching children social skills is essential to their ability to communicate their feelings, wants, and needs effectively. Children with well-developed social skills benefit from improved social relationships and acceptance, and according to some research, may experience lower levels of stress. They also tend to perform better in school and develop stronger, more meaningful friendships. In fact, research published in the American Journal of Public Health cited a child’s social and emotional skills in kindergarten as potentially the biggest predictor of success in adulthood.

Fortunately, social skills can be taught, and it’s never too early to start. Knowing how to teach your child good social skills is an effective way to help them adapt to their environment as they grow older. Some social skills are more complex than others, and all require effort and practice over time. Let’s take a look at how to get started and some of the ways to teach children social skills.

As little ones grow and begin to explore the world around them, they will face new obstacles. The Slumberkins Maple Bigfoot Kin supports children as they learn self-confidence and reminds them that they are kind and strong, and the world is better with them in it. Every child needs a buddy to go out into the world with. During times of stress or heightened anxiety, many children find comfort in articulating, naming, and sharing their feelings and fears. The Bigfoot Kin is just the right size for little ones to play with and confide in as they find their voice in the world.


1. Cooperating

Cooperating means working with others to reach a common objective. A child who knows how to cooperate puts in effort, gets along with and helps others. They also know how to ask for what they want respectfully and how to be a good sport when things don’t go their way. Knowing how to cooperate is important in the classroom and on the playground. Collaborating with others to play a game, practicing how to lead, and practicing how to follow are all valuable ways for kids to learn how they feel most comfortable functioning in a group.

How to Teach It: Give your entire family a chance to work together at something, like cooking dinner or cleaning the house. Highlight the value of cooperation. Teach your child that teamwork matters and that work goes more smoothly when everyone does their part.

2. Practicing Good Etiquette

Teaching your child to be polite and respectful, particularly at school or when a guest in someone’s home,  is one of the most helpful social skills a child can learn. This one takes lots of time and practice, but coaching your little one to use good table etiquette and to say “thank you” and “please” can definitely give your child a social advantage.

How to Teach It: Model the behavior you want to see when interacting with your child and with others. Say “yes, please” and “no, thank you” often. Gently remind your child when they forget their manners and praise them when they remember.

3. Listening

Listening doesn’t simply mean hearing another person’s words. It’s about soaking in what they say and truly understanding what’s being communicated. This skill becomes even more important to a child’s academic success as they get older. It’s also a critical component of empathy. In order to be a supportive friend or a compassionate person, a child must learn to listen and understand what’s being said.

How to Teach It: Read books to your children and pause at various intervals to ask them to explain the story to you. Help them with anything they missed and encourage them to continue listening as you read. Teach them not to interrupt others. From a very early age, teach your children that phones and other devices should be put away when they are listening to others or involved in a conversation.

4. Following Instructions

Children who have a hard time complying with what they’re asked to do will probably struggle with a lot of negative outcomes. Whether it’s redoing schoolwork or not following the rules for expected behavior, the inability to follow instructions can be a challenge.

How to Teach It: If your child has a hard time doing what they’re told, give them a chance to follow simple directions. For example, say something like, “Please hand me that toy,” and then give them a compliment them for following directions. Notice when they comply with instructions and offer praise. It’s also important to be mindful of how you give young children instructions. Give them only one command at a time, and wait for them to follow through before giving another one. Don’t phrase instructions as a question (“Will you clean your room please?”), since this implies they have a choice about whatever you’re asking them to do. Give the instructions, and ask them to repeat them back to you. Be patient – mistakes will happen.

All children experience big emotions that can get the best of them in social situations. Slumberkins Pacific Hammerhead Kin teaches them how to take a breath when they’re mad, calm down, and make it right. The determination of young children can often lead to conflict, especially as they begin to explore the world around them and play with others. Children will carry the social skills and emotional regulation they’ve learned through Hammerhead's affirmation with them as they work to make healthy decisions.


5. Sharing

Teaching your children how to readily share a toy is a huge asset when it comes to developing friendships. Research published in Psychological Science demonstrates that even a 2-year-old may be willing to share (as long as there’s plenty to go around). By preschool, children learn that sometimes sharing means there’s less for them to enjoy. As children grow older, however, they learn the concept of fairness and tend to become more willing to share.

How to Teach It: “Catch” your child sharing, and praise them for it. Be sure to point out how it makes others feel when they share: “You decided to share your toy with your brother. That’s so nice! Look how happy he is.”

6. Understanding Boundaries

Learning to respect another person’s personal space is another important social skill children can learn early. Teach little ones to knock on closed doors and keep their hands to themselves. Talk to them about the consequences if they push someone or grab at something when feeling impatient. As they get older, talk about what it means to set boundaries for themselves and what it means to respect the boundaries of others.

How to Teach It: Coach your child about respecting personal space. Remind them to stand arm’s length away from others when speaking or standing in line. Try role-playing to help them practice.

The Takeaway

Figuring out how to teach your child social skills at an early age can give them a big advantage when it comes to their relationships and mental health. If your little one appears to be struggling with social skills more than other children, speak to your pediatrician. They may just need a little time and extra coaching to get there, but sometimes difficulty mastering social skills can be a sign of other issues, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism. A doctor can evaluate your child and determine whether treatment is necessary.

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