When a little one first comes into your life, it can be difficult to imagine them becoming fully-fledged grownups. But a little baby won’t stay tiny forever—and as they grow and develop physically, they also grow socially.
From sharing toys with others to high-fiving their friends and communicating feelings, the set of good social skills a child learns as they play and interact with others can create a strong foundation for the future. For parents and caregivers, you can make the most of these opportunities by teaching your child critical social emotional skills and supporting them through teachable moments. With the social strains our world has faced over the past few years, it’s still essential to learn how to socialize kids during COVID so they can safely interact with their friends.
Wondering where to start and why social skills training matters? We’ve put together this short guide on critical social skills for kids.
3 Key Social Skills for Children
First, let’s look at a few critical social skills for your children to master as they grow. Preschool is an important time for children to begin building basic social interaction skills they’ll need for the rest of their lives.1 However, they’ll have plenty of opportunities to continue fine-tuning their emotional intelligence and communication skills as they grow older.
Some important specific social skills toddlers, preschoolers, and children should learn as they grow include:
- Cooperating with others – The first time your child goes to preschool, they may be overwhelmed by the strangeness of their environment—and the need to follow directions. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity. You can work with your toddler or child to help them understand the importance of listening to others and following directions. This ability can encourage children to learn to cooperate with trusted adults and peers, helping set them up for success in the future.
- Respecting others – What is respect for kids? Respect for their peers, adults, and themselves can be a tough skill for younger children to grasp. They don’t understand their tiny place in the world. Little kids can also lack the experiences needed to comprehend how their actions impact others. To help your preschooler or gradeschooler better grasp the concept of respect, it can help to pair examples of how to be respectful with questions to help them imagine how they would feel in the same social situation.
- Self-control – This may be a more challenging social skill for many young children to learn. Learning to control emotions in the face of stressful situations, such as having to share for the first time, cooperating with others, or listening to directions from a teacher, can take time and practice. You can best prepare your preschool or gradeschool child for these challenges by remaining calm and helping them practice positive self-control behaviors at home. For example, you can create a fun and engaging red-light, green-light game that allows you to connect with your child while they’re learning to practice patience and self-control, and perhaps create boundaries.
These three basic skills may seem like small steps in your child’s overall social development. However, healthy social competence in early childhood can be a marker of future wellness.2 By reinforcing these skills with kindness, positivity, and imaginative examples, you can help set your little one up for success that impacts many other parts of their lives.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that these developmental skills may vary by age. For example, your toddler may be able to learn how to cooperate with their surroundings. However, teaching them what respect and self-control are may have to wait until they are a few years older and can develop the ability to self-regulate their awareness.
Jumpstart Your Little One’s Social Development with Slumberkins
Teaching your child social skills can sometimes feel like a puzzle—but with time and practice, we know it’s one you can figure out together as you develop your own healthy parenting skills. The younger your child is when you begin teaching them social skills, the more time they’ll have to practice and build connections and build confidence.
Still, sometimes it can be helpful for your little one to have extra support as they learn to navigate the world outside their home. This is where Slumberkins comes into play..
Slumberkins makes high-quality products like social emotional learning books that help your child develop critical skills as they grow. Our soft, cuddly toys like snugglers provide comfort and support when things get overwhelming. Check out our online store today.
- Maleki, Maryam et al. “Social Skills in Children at Home and in Preschool.” Behavioral sciences (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 9,7 74. 8 Jul. 2019, doi:10.3390/bs9070074
- Jones, Damon E et al. “Early Social-Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness.” American journal of public health vol. 105,11 (2015): 2283-90. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302630
- Sancassiani, Federica et al. “Enhancing the Emotional and Social Skills of the Youth to Promote their Wellbeing and Positive Development: A Systematic Review of Universal School-based Randomized Controlled Trials.” Clinical practice and epidemiology in mental health : CP & EMH vol. 11,Suppl 1 M2 21-40. 26 Feb. 2015, doi:10.2174/1745017901511010021