Socialization is more important than we may think. There are many social interactions that happen on a daily basis. We are conditioned to know how to behave in such scenarios because of social skills. For instance, greeting someone at the supermarket checkout, knowing to move out of someone’s way on a busy sidewalk, and interacting with people in an office or school setting are all social skills. No matter what we’re doing with life, we have to use social skills.
This is why it is so important that children learn appropriate social skills from a young age. We think that knowing how to act is easy, but this is only because we have already learnt it. Think about when you visit a foreign country and how many awkward and uncomfortable social encounters occur simply because you don’t know the rules. This is how children feel all they time while they are still learning the rules.
Social skills for kids are confusing and often don’t add up. But they are essential to be taught so that kids can become productive members fo society. The thing about social skills for kids is that they start learning them from the moment they’re born. And they are literally lifelong lessons!
Let us take a closer look at these skills and social activities for kids to help them become better citizens of the future.
What are social skills for kids?
Social skills are more than just the way we talk with one another. Much of human communication is implied or nonverbal. Therefore, we need to know a lot of cues and responses in order to have good social skills.
Since kids are naturally auto-interested, in that they are more aware of themselves than others, social skills are not innate. Rather, they need to be guided by direct lessons or by examples.
Here are some examples of social skills for kids to learn:
- Cooperation and learning to work or play in a team
- Sharing treats and toys with others
- Participation and joining in at things to break away from a comfort zone
- Being patient and listening to others or giving them a time to talk
- Following directions and understanding sequence of events
- Listening in an active manner
- Empathy and understanding that everyone is different
- Being polite and using manners
- Developing conflict resolution abilities
- Using good manners when talking and eating
- Respecting rules and accepting responsibilities
- Resolving conflicts and dealing with problems
Why are social skills important?
As mentioned, social skills come into play in everyday of life. It is social skills that make society function well and help everyone to get along. This is really important for kids to learn from a young age. It helps them to be more empathetic, understanding, patient, and responsbile for how their actions impact society.
Social skills are important for the following parts of socialization:
- Self respect
- Respecting others
- Building confidence
- Making and maintaining friends
Without fundamental social skills, there are endless interactions that are going to more difficult. This is why it is important to teach social skills to kids from a young age.
Ideas for social activities for kids
Since social skills are fundamentally important to children, it is essential to focus on them in all aspects of life. However, since social skills are also super confusing, kids may need time and patience with them. This is why it can be more fun and productive to incorporate social skills into activities and games. This can raise less questions and confusion, but remember to always be present to answer any questions or explain things further about social skills.
Here are some activities and games ideas to help kids socialization better and feel more self-confident in handling social skills.
- Starting contest to improve eye contact
- Reading books with idioms and metaphors in them
- Playing a game of emotions charades
- Doing activities with emotions flashcards
- Improvising storytime games
- Playing cooperative games and learning positive competition and good sportsmanship
- Practicing decision making with ‘would you rather’ game
- Solving social problems using prompts and characters
List of social skills to teach kids by age
Learning social skills is something that takes place over many years. In fact, they are things that will involve life long lessons and will constantly be adapted, challenged, and refined the more social situations kids are in.
That being said, there are some social cues and skills that kids should have under their belt by certain ages. Here is a rough guide to some of these:
- Age 1: basic communication, recognize familiar faces, interact with parents confidently
- Age 2: engage with other children, have belonging over space or objects, develop relationships with others
- Age 3: seek out friendships, use the imagination, start to understand and recognize emotions in others and self
- Age 4: show interest in being part of a group, share and cooperate with others, be affectionate, exert independence
Social skills for kids are ongoing life lessons. They are fundamental to helping children weave their way through the maze of human interaction and communication. When kids have confidence in social skills, many things become easier for them as they dive into new situations. This is why doing social activities with kids and helping them understand scenarios is so important.