You know how it is when the family gets together, or when you’re catching up with friends. Comparing your children’s achievements somehow always crops up even when you never want to talk about it.
“How’s your baby doing? Can he already count to 100?” “Has your daughter already read 100 books? Mine has!”
Yes, early education is a key foundation for your kids. But studies have shown that in reality, social “soft skills” are more important than “hard skills”, and that’s what your kids should be learning in kindergarten or preschool.
Why Are Social Skills Important For Your Child?
Why are social skills important for your child? Cementing better social skills when young helps these kids when they eventually come of age | Source: Pexels
Learning social skills actually helps your kids when they grow to become responsible adults.
Studies show that social skills that are learnt while kids were in kindergarten are correlated to the success of the same children when they became 25 years old.
This is despite how many books they read, how well they can count or how much money they were born into. As long as your children show the ability to speak and make friends, they are more likely to graduate with a degree and get a job, when compared to those who lack social skills.
It’s important for you to look for the right kindergartens or preschools that encourage your kids to play and have social interactions with their peers, as they are an indicator of your child’s success in future.
Here Are 5 Ideas To Encourage Social Soft Skills With Your Child
1. Play Well With Friends
Playing is a way for kids to learn how to solve problems, negotiate, share and take turns, as well as experiment with thoughts and ideas. Set play dates or just give your children time to play with their friends. Take them to the public playground where they can make new friends – supervised but without any instructions from you or the other mums there.
While it is tempting to be the super-mum whenever the junior has a problem, it’s more important for him to learn how to solve the problem on his own. The next time he has a problem, ask him to describe what’s the problem and think of solutions to solve the said problem. Support your child rather than handling the problem for him.
Ask questions like, “What do you think you can do?” In a situation, this teaches the importance of trying again after failing, evaluating a situation, how to improve oneself, and how to move forward after the problem.
3. Recognising Feelings
If your child understands what someone else is feeling, her empathy helps her to connect easily with others. Try developing this skill by calling out emotional cues like, “Your brother looks sad because you took his toy,” or “You and your friends look so happy after winning the game”.
Storybooks are a great way for kids to learn emotion and conflict from a third party point-of-view. Avoid smartphones and iPads as excessive screen use can impact the way your child empathises with others. Face-to-face interaction is key.
4. Becoming Helpful
When you see your kids helping others, notice and compliment them for it. Try asking your child to help you around the house, like helping the baby get dressed or giving you a hand with storing the groceries in the fridge, then show your appreciation generously. Thank others who help and show them how important it is to show gratitude, even to the cashier at NTUC. Your child sees and follows your example.
5. Keep Impulses In Check
Your child will find it hard to control their impulses because the area of the brain that controls impulses doesn’t develop until early adulthood. Help them practice this skill. Try playing games like “Simon says” “freeze dance” or “musical chairs” to give them practice on start-stopping their thought process, and learning not to move on impulse.
Alternatively, try playing pretend games. Act out a scene with your children, and give them a new character and story, like a superhero storyline. In these scenes, they can plan how to act, practice taking turns and learn how to follow rules. Because they are pretending to be someone else, they will think out of the box from a different perspective outside of their own.
Soft Skills Are The Way Forward
You know why are social skills important for your child, so you can help them every step of the way | Source: Pexels
Singapore’s fast-paced society means we always want our children to have the highest grades in the class. But the truth is social soft skills they pick up early in their life is what really sets the foundation for their future. It’s as easy as playing with others, engaging with the whole family and being attentive to the world that’s around them.
How To Build Social Skills In Children In The Post Pandemic Era
Image Source: Pexels
The pandemic and the worldwide lockdown forced us into isolation and has gravely limited our social interactions. This is particularly concerning for children who restricted interactions with only their family members and maybe a pet at home. With the schools shut and the neighbourhood restricted, the only two main sources for kids to socially interact have been taken away.
As a result, children aren’t just missing the normal form of education, but have limited abilities when it comes to socialising. All other opportunities of socialisation including walking to school together, eating lunch with other kids, playing and even fighting with children their own age, is now completely out of the equation. That’s why parents will have to fill that void, so children can develop their social skills amidst the pandemic. Here are four ways to achieve the same.
1. Stay Connected
While social and physical distancing is the norm today and must be followed till the pandemic ends, it does not mean that you disconnect with friends and family during this period. Use safer ways to engage with your friends and family. and make sure your children are a part of these conversations.
Maintaining a strong network of support is helpful for everybody, and will keep you sane
A helpful way to think about what we are doing as a society is not so much that we are behind closed doors. With apps like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout and even Whatsapp calls, you can connect your child with other relatives, and even set up virtual play dates with their friends from school.
There are also websites like Messenger Kids, Jackbox Games, and Caribu that incorporate games with video calls in order to make the interaction more entertaining.
2. Write Letters
Another way of staying in touch and improving your child’s social skills is to make them write letters. Yes, go old school and also brush up on their literary skills. Encourage your child to share stories of what they’ve learnt or something fun they did at home with their friends or other members to the family. You can help them write the letter but not dictate what they need to write.
Writing letters will also be a good practice to sharpen their motor skills and you can always take it a step further by adding art and craft ideas to the letter or creating a greeting card that can be sent along with the letter.
3. Bring Back Board Games
It would be a nice opportunity for some family bonding and to pull out those board games. There are several games that require a lot of social thinking skills and you can always earmark certain time in a week to play such games with the entire family.
For instance, games like Guess Who, requires your child to think objectively about characters and use deductive reasoning to come up with the solutions in the game. There’s also charades that require your child to build his communication skills and be literally emotive with his facial expressions and hands.
Remember that this is the perfect opportunity to teach your child about how to handle losing a game, frustration, and how to work with a team. Being competitive with your kid will only help them develop these skills faster.
Take out the time to role-play with your child and have practice conversations. You could pretend to be a chef one day or a teacher the other day. It’s a good opportunity to teach them about different professions.
It’s also a good chance to develop conversational skills with your child. Keep the conversation going by asking a question at the end of the conversation to open room for another. Read books about different social situations and ask your child about what he thinks about a character, or what he thought about the different events happening in the story.
5. Lead By Example
Children learn a lot through observation and will particularly examine how their parents speak and treat the people around them. That’s why you need to lead by example when you talk to friends and family on video calls or even in person. This not only includes pleasant conversations but also fights and conflicts.
It’s also necessary that you make it a point to follow all the social distancing precautions when you meet someone in person, in order to set the right precedent for your kid to follow. While opportunities like these will be limited, it will still be something to share with your child till things get back to normal.
Source: NPR, American Journal of Public Health
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