Teaching Your Child Social Skills

Did you know teaching your child social skills could minimize, and even prevent, bullying?

Let’s take a closer look. According to Conway (2009), the following skills can be used:

1- Interpersonal behaviors: These behaviors help children to make and keep friendships. These include the skills of introducing oneself, finding ways to join in with others in games, and being helpful and caring.

2- Peer-related social skills: These are skills children need in order to interact successfully and develop a sense of belonging within a group of peers. These skills include learning how to take turns and the ability to correctly predict and respond to others’ feelings and emotions (theory of mind).

3- Teacher-pleasing skills: These are skills children need to participate in expected and non-disruptive ways in the classroom. They include the ability to follow instructions, to concentrate, and to listen.

4- Self-related behaviors: These are skills essential to the problem-solving process. They include the ability to control one’s impulses, to identify and manage one’s emotions, and to use a range of strategies to cope with difficult situations.

5- Assertiveness skills: For preschoolers, this would be described as “using your words!” It is about expressing and standing up for your beliefs and needs without using violence.

6- Communication skills: These skills include expressive (having your say) and receptive (listening to others) skills. Communication is not just about being able to speak and hear or understand words. Social skills, such as waiting your turn to speak and staying on topic in a conversation, and showing you are listening to what is being said to you, are also important components of effective communication.

7- Kindness: Be kind to others. Today, I share with you; tomorrow, you share with me. But what if he or she doesn’t want to play with me all the time? It’s okay if he or she doesn’t want to play, hug, or join hands all the time. Give him or her time to play with others. Friends always return!

8- Mindful: Treat others the way you want to be treated. After all, you want to be treated with fairness and respect for who you are and you want to know that your feelings count, too. Other people have these same needs and wants.


Teaching Social Skills

Williams and Reisberg (2003) discussed several key steps we should use when teaching social skills.

1- Direct Instruction: Demonstrating the skill step by step and explaining the purpose of the skill.

2- Modelling: Using strategies such as role play or drama so that students can see the skill in action.

3- Guided Practice: Setting up games, group work, or cooperative learning experiences and “coaching” students in using the skill. This can be accomplished through the use of either task cards or verbal and visual prompts (such as a “talking stick” when teaching the skill of turn-taking in conversation).

4- Independent Practice: This step basically involves the adult(s) involved watching students closely and providing them with praise, rewards, and even consequences, where necessary.

5- Generalization: This includes watching and encouraging students, where appropriate, to use the skill at home, on the playground, and in the community, as well as in the classroom.

6- Demonstrating the Social Skill: To have friends, you must also be a friend. Here are some of the ways good friends treat each other:

  • Good friends listen to each other.
  • Good friends don’t put each other down or hurt each other’s feelings.
  • Good friends try to understand each other’s feelings and moods.
  • Good friends help each other solve problems.
  • Good friends give each other compliments.
  • Good friends can disagree without hurting each other.
  • Good friends are dependable.
  • Good friends respect each other.
  • Good friends are trustworthy.
  • Good friends give each other room to change.
  • Good friends care about each other.