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Social Skills You Can Start Teaching Your Child Now

Learning social skills is a key part of child development. Good social skills allow kids to interact positively with others and communicate their needs, wants, and feelings effectively. Plus, the benefits of robust social skills reach far beyond social relationships and acceptance. Children with better social skills are likely to reap immediate benefits. For example, one study found that good social skills may reduce stress in children who are in daycare settings.1

Social skills need ongoing refinement as kids grow. crossroadsfeedandseed.com They aren’t something a child either has or doesn’t have. These skills continue to develop with age and can be learned and strengthened with effort and practice.

Some social skills are quite complicated—like understanding it is important to be assertive when a friend is being bullied or to stay silent when you do not agree with a call from the umpire. Look for teachable moments where you can help your kids do better. Learn more about the seven most important social skills for kids and how to teach them.

Benefits

Social skills give kids a wide range of benefits. They are linked to greater success in school and better relationships with peers.

Better Outcomes

Researchers from Penn State and Duke University found that children who were better at sharing, listening, cooperating, and following the rules at age five were more likely to go to college. They also were more likely to be employed full-time by age 25.

More Success

Good social skills also can help kids have a brighter future. According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health, a child’s social and emotional skills in kindergarten might be the biggest predictor of success in adulthood.2

Children who lacked social and emotional skills were more likely to become dependent on public assistance, experience legal trouble, have substance abuse issues, and experience relationship issues.2

Stronger Friendships

Kids who have strong social skills and can get along well with peers are likely to make friends more easily. Research indicates that childhood friendships are good for kids’ mental health.3 Friendships also give children opportunities to practice more advanced social skills, like problem-solving and conflict resolution.

Reduced Stress

Not having the social skills to interact with others also likely compounds that stress. For instance, being away from family places stress on children. When they are unable to communicate effectively with others, it only gets worse.1

Researchers have found that children experienced a decrease in cortisol, a hormone released during stressful situations, once they learned new social skills.1

The good news is that social skills can be taught. It is never too soon to start showing kids how to get along with others. And it’s never too late to sharpen their skills either. Start with the most basic social skills first and keep working on your child’s skills over time.

Sharing

A willingness to share a snack or a toy can go a long way to helping kids make and keep friends. According to a study published in Psychological Science, children as young as age 2 may show a desire to share with others—but usually only when their resources are abundant.4

However, children between the ages of 3 and 6 are often selfish when it comes to sharing resources that come at a cost. Kids might be reluctant to share half of their cookie with a friend because it means they’ll have less to enjoy. But those same children might readily share a toy that they’re no longer interested in playing with.

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