Children’s social development is just as important as their physical and cognitive development. Kids who have strong social skills are better at solving problems, staying on task, and are more likely to excel in school. They tend to be more confident, empathize with others, and have the ability to build meaningful and lasting friendships.
The early years of a child’s life are critical when it comes to developing social skills. As parents, we play an essential role in fostering our children’s social development. So what are some ways we can help foster social development in preschoolers? Here are a few ideas:
Set up playdates
Just like adults, kids are also social beings, and playdates are a great way for them to learn how to interact with other children. As early as four years of age, children should already have an active social life in which they are exposed to opportunities that enable them to learn how to make friends and get along with same-aged peers. Preschool provides an excellent venue for cultivating these relationships, but if your little one is too young to attend, then playdates are an excellent place to start.
Set up playdates and invite some of your little one’s friends over. Encourage them to share their toys, play together, and learn to take turns leading games and activities. When kids are given opportunities in which they can practice these important social skills, they will feel more comfortable interacting with others in new settings later on.
Help your child understand the importance of working and playing in cooperation with others, and reinforce the idea that they are part of a team. Help them develop the skills needed to be a team player and help them become accustomed to following directions, sharing with others, taking turns, and building relationships.
This is important because whether children are in school or nearing adulthood and a future career, they will eventually need to work well with others. The sooner they learn these key skills, the better off they will be in life.
You can foster empathy by encouraging children to think about how someone else might feel if they act a certain way. Remind them that other people have feelings too, and encourage them to see situations from another person’s point of view. Teach them what empathy means by asking questions like, “How do you think Johnny is feeling after you accidentally dropped his toy?”, or, “How do you think your sister feels when you refuse to share your toy with her?”
Teach them how to say “I’m sorry”
From an early age, children need to learn the value of apologizing and understand the meaning of being genuinely sorry. Encourage these social skills by teaching your child what saying “I’m sorry” means for themselves and others when appropriate.
This is especially important if children have done something that has hurt someone else’s feelings or made them feel upset. It’s also essential to remind them that apologizing should be something that comes from the heart and that it comes along with the commitment to never repeat the same action.
Instill the value of generosity
Teach your child the value of generosity by giving them an opportunity to share their own belongings and their time with others. Offer them a chance to think creatively and come up with ideas about how they can help someone in need, whether it’s a friend or somebody at school they don’t know very well. Learning how to share and be generous from an early age helps children develop into caring and confident adults.
Help them learn how to regulate their emotions
Self-regulation is something that doesn’t come easily for kids. Because of this, they may end up channeling their anger and frustration by having a tantrum or even becoming physically aggressive.
Give them an opportunity to learn how to manage their own emotions by teaching them calming techniques, especially to help them refrain from hurting others.
Learning how to interact with others is an important skill young kids need to develop early on. As parents, we can help boost our children’s social development by being involved in their day-to-day lives and actively providing them with plenty of opportunities to build these skills during their daily interactions.
At Imagine Nation Learning Center, we provide a personalized early learning experience that focuses on the developmental needs of each child, stressing educational, social, and emotional skills with an emphasis on creativity and being informed by our faith in God. Learn more about us by visiting our website.