Social skills are one of those things which some of us have in spades, and others need to work on more. Children are no different – some are naturally very socially adept whilst others take a little longer. Social skills are often learnt through trial and error, but there are ways in which parents can teach children basic social skills, supported by their social development in schools.

Disclaimer: This post contains links for which I have been compensated for including.

It is important not to be too critical of your kids when they make mistakes. You have to be more encouraging. Spend time with your child and try to teach them what you know about socialising.

Nursery aged children are especially varied because social skills are a very specific set of abilities, some of which don’t exist until the child is a little older. If you have a child approaching nursery age, or perhaps they’re already there – and you have concerns, then here are some strategies to help you help your child.

What Are The Expected Social Skills Of Pre-School Children?

Firstly, let’s look at the expected social skills of a typical 3- 4 year old:

  • Can see and understand that others have feelings too – noting when someone is angry or sad
  • Can use various methods to help themselves regulate their own emotions such as breathing deeply and walking away from a situation
  • Can form a close friendship
  • Whilst they may find it hard to take turns at age 3, by 4 these skills should be coming in and cooperative play should be a regular part of their day
  • Less physically aggressive
  • Understand basic social rules such as no pushing, no grabbing
  • Understand the difference between an accident and a deliberate act

Don’t worry if you see some things on this list that your child cannot manage yet. Try to provide plenty of opportunities for them to practice. Lots of playdates, lots of board games and some Mindfulness should help.

All children take their time to develop socially. Some are fast and some not so fast – a good school, like this private nursery in Hertfordshire, will work at your child’s pace and usually, within their first term, you will begin to see more growth.

teach children basic social skills like kindness

5 Steps to Teach Children Basic Social Skills at Home

Many people think that social skills can be taught in school, but it’s also the responsibility of parents to teach them at home.

The 5 Steps to Teach Your Children Basic Social Skills at Home include: Developing an understanding of what emotions are and how they communicate with others; Encourage your child to cooperate with others; Teach your child how to apologize for mistakes (and allow them to apologize themselves); Encourage your child to be a good listener when speaking with someone else; and Let your child know that the feelings of others matter, too.

Parents should take the time to teach children basic social skills and make sure they know about emotions, cooperation, apology, listening skills, and empathy. Here’s how to teach children basic social skills by leading by example:

  1. Be an attentive listener
  2. Use appropriate facial expressions
  3. Keep the conversation on topic and short
  4. Display appropriate body language
  5. Ask open-ended, probing questions

Teaching Children Compassion and Empathy

All children should have the opportunity to develop compassion and empathy. These are essential skills in increasing self-awareness, making better personal decisions, developing patience and self-control.

Compassion and empathy are important for the individual, but they also have a positive effect on society as a whole and other people’s quality of life. As we learn more about the importance of these qualities in our lives, we need to ensure that all children are allowed to develop them at an early age.

Teaching children social skills like empathy

So can we teach children basic social skills, or not?

In conclusion, I’d say that whilst you can teach children basic social skills, and you can also expect support for this from schools, the bulk of them learning these social skills is going to be in watching how you as a parent interact with those around you. Children start learning their social skills from birth, observing how we as parents behave socially.

Teaching by example and learning by observation are the best ways to teach children basic social skills that will see them through many situations in life, from how they treat other children in the playground to how they behave in a work environment when they are older. Remember, children are always watching.