Developing social skills prepares children for a lifetime of healthy interactions in all aspects of life. Social skills are an integral part of functioning in society. Displaying good manners, communicating effectively with others, being considerate of the feelings of others, and expressing personal needs are all important components of solid social skills.
In general, children will have developed certain social skills and social cues by these ages:
- By age 1, children are able to point and make noises to express their wants and needs, smile or cry as they recognize familiar people, and hand toys to people they are playing with.
- By age 2, children are able to show preferences towards adults and children they are familiar with, seek an adult for comfort, and copy behaviors of adults and children.
- By age 3, children are able to seek attention from others, initiate social contact with others verbally by saying “hi” and “bye”, and make eye contact with a person who is talking.
- By age 4, children are able to take turns when playing games, play with a doll or stuffed animal, and initiate verbal communication with actual words.
- By age 5, children are able to show more cooperation with others, use direct requests such as “stop”, are more likely to hold conversations, and engage in pretend play.
Adults sometimes make the mistake of assuming children play just to pass the time. This is not true. In fact, children gain most of their skills through playing. At Educational Playcare, we understand that play is an essential part of a child’s development. It is how they explore the world around them, and it should be encouraged for them to learn new skills while playing.
At Educational Playcare, one of our Core Values is Community. Playdates are a crucial part of growing up and can help children feel like they are part of a community by meeting and playing with other children. Having playdates are also a great way to introduce your child to the concept of using rules when a friend comes over and to teach him or her how to be polite to guests.
Here are a few ways that you can help enhance your child’s social development further through play:
- Teach empathy: Run through different scenarios by asking your child how other people might feel when certain things happen and substitute different situations each time.
- Explain personal space: Tell your child that it is important for everyone to have some personal space to feel comfortable, and practice acceptable ways to interact with someone during playtime.
- Practice social overtures: Teach your child the proper way to start a conversation, get someone’s attention, or join a group of children who are already playing together.
- Go over taking turns: Whenever playing with your child, take the opportunities to explain what it means to wait, take turns, and share.
In order to build gratifying human relationships, it is vital that children learn and have the opportunity to practice the social skills considered appropriate by society. It is important to teach children to conduct themselves in ways that allow them to develop relationships with other people.