People of all ages benefit from good interpersonal skills at home, school, in the workplace and any other situation that requires a team effort. Children who lack social skills have a hard time relating to others and might struggle to contribute meaningfully to a group. This can lead to social rejection, which negatively impacts the emotional, cognitive and physical health of the child. A study from the University of Arizona found conclusive links between poor social skill development and depression.
Parents can help children develop the social skills needed to make good decisions and create nurturing relationships.
What Are Social Skills?
Socials skills are the mental abilities that allow people to interact with each other in a mutually positive way. There are four main behaviors associated with good social skills.
- Respecting the skills and contributions of others in the group and expressing that appreciation.
- Exchanging ideas and information in a group.
- Following the rules of the group and displaying context-appropriate behavior.
- Using different skills and methods to reach the group’s goals.
These behaviors are a combination of verbal and nonverbal actions. Children who master these competencies are popular, socially active and less prone to make harmful decisions. Those who have difficulty with any combination of these qualities can find themselves having problems making friends, keeping up grades, or following household rules.
Cultivating Social Skills
Social skills can be taught. With some perseverance, patience and positive examples, parents can help children overcome their social deficiencies.
- Create opportunities for practice at home. Hold regular family meetings to discuss issues like schedules, vacation plans, or problems that need to be solved. During these sessions, encourage your child to participate by voicing their opinion, taking notes, or assisting in other age-appropriate ways.
- Take your child with you to organized social affairs like book club meetings, political gatherings, or cultural events. They will learn to observe the rules of the group and to respect those with opinions, skills and knowledge that are different from their own. These skills are necessary for finding success in diverse group settings like colleges and workplaces.
- Show your child the value of friendship. Talk to them about their friends. Ask them what they like about their companions and how they enjoy spending time together. When a disagreement occurs, talk about ways to repair the damage and reestablish the relationship. Teach children that relationships are not disposable and that there is often good reason to compromise in order to save the relationship.
- Teach your children the basics of good manners. Saying please and thank you, waiting your turn and other general rules of group etiquette form the basis of almost all group rules. Make good manners and respect for others a family goal.
The ability to cooperate and work well in a group setting is one of the most important indicators of financial success and personal satisfaction. Your guidance and loving involvement will ensure your child builds a foundation of social skills they can use to build their best life.