When you think back on your childhood, what do you remember the most? We’re willing to bet it wasn’t that history test you aced or anything you learned in calculus (or is that just us?). Chances are you remember the birthday parties, the study groups, the soccer games and the pep rallies. You remember the laughter, the camaraderie, the time a best pal stood up for you. You remember your friends. And if you’re lucky, some of them are still your friends.
One of the most important lessons your child can learn at school has nothing to do with what is printed in a textbook. Social development in children and the relationships they make during their early years are a crucial part of growing up. Our need for social interactions is undeniable. According to Psychology Today, “Social skills are about being able to flexibly adjust our behavior to fit a particular situation and our personal needs and desires.” That said, it’s not always easy for kids to make friends. It takes time to learn social etiquette and it can be scary for a child (and a parent). And while we as parents can’t choose their friends for them, we can certainly try to help. Here are 12 ways you can help beef up your kids’ social skills.
1. After-School Activities
Theater is a wonderful way for a child to practice social skills and explore new friendships. They will meet new people, they will engage in role-playing and will learn to express themselves creatively, all while working as a group. If your child is more into sports, encourage them to join an athletic team. Every sport, even the ones that are bit more solitary like tennis, provides a sense of community and encourages social development in children. Teammates practice together, work together, support one another and bond as they deal with victories and losses.