Activities to Develop Children's Social Skills
Regardless of whether they’re open or reserved, shy or outgoing, all children need to establish social relationships. Communicating, interacting, and sharing with others are necessary for healthy physical and psychological development. However, the ability to relate properly isn’t always intrinsic and needs to be learned and taught. Therefore, we’ll suggest some activities for working on children’s social skills.
Not having the right social tools can cause serious difficulties for children. From self-esteem problems, sadness, and fear of rejection to stress or social anxiety.
So, it’s important, from their early years, that we provide them with sufficient resources. This way, they can see social interaction as something simple and rewarding.
Activities to develop children’s social skills
There are many social skills that we use on a daily basis and that we can enhance in children. From the simplest ones, such as introducing oneself, giving a compliment, or initiating a conversation, to the more complex ones, such as following instructions, asking for help, or setting limits.
Below, we’ll focus on some of the most important ones and how we can teach them in a simple and fun way.
To work on empathy with children, we have to help them identify others’ moods, understand them, and react appropriately.
To do this, one of the simplest exercises is to show them images of faces expressing different emotions and ask them to say what they think those people feel. We can also do it the other way around, i.e., give the child an emotion and invite him to represent it with his own gestures.
Books and movies can also be very helpful tools to foster empathy. So, we can ask the children what each of the characters feels, and what makes them feel that way. Similarly, it’s interesting to encourage them to think about what emotion they’d experience in that situation, and how they’d like to be treated by others.
Assertiveness is an essential social skill, as it’s closely related to self-esteem. To develop it, role-playing is one of the most appropriate activities.
It involves forming pairs of children and explaining the situation they should act out. These can be asking for a favor, saying “no” to a request, expressing an opinion, negotiating with the other person, etc…
Before doing this activity, it’s important to explain the proper way to express ourselves without showing disrespect to others but defending our opinions and wishes. The rest of the children play the role of spectators and decide what they think of the scene, what’s right, and what could be improved.
To learn to cooperate, we need to confront children with games or activities that require teamwork. Team treasure hunts, for example, can be very interesting. In this activity, children have to pool their skills to solve tests and puzzles.
“Big Turtle” is another game that’s as useful as it’s fun. Several children are placed on all fours and, on top of them, a mat is placed, which is the turtle’s shell.
They’re then asked to carry the turtle from one point to another or to make a circuit. In doing so, they’ll see the need for coordinating their movements to prevent the shell from falling and moving forward.
Other activities to develop children’s social skills
To work on social skills with children, it’s best to do it in a natural and fun way in everyday contexts. For example, board games can be very useful in teaching children to take turns.
The traditional game “Simon Says” is ideal for developing the ability to follow instructions. Also, dynamics such as blindfolding and guiding a partner enhance interpersonal trust.
Above all, we must remember that the family is the main socializing agent and parents are the main reference figures. Therefore, our own behavior is the best guide for our children.
Let’s become aware of how we relate to each other, how we express ourselves, and what ideas we convey to our children about social interaction. Acquiring these skills in childhood will surely prepare them for success in many areas of their lives.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Vargas Mora, M., & Basten, M. (2013). Aplicación de la propuesta para fortalecer la vivencia de los valores de solidaridad y empatía con niños y niñas de 4 a 5 años, de una institución privada de Heredia, por medio de talleres lúdicos-creativos. Revista Electrónica Educare, 17(3), 199-228. https://www.scielo.sa.cr/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1409-42582013000300010
- Sabater, V. (2020g, abril 22). Los niños asertivos son niños más felices. Recuperado agosto de 2020, de https://lamenteesmaravillosa.com/ninos-asertivos-ninos-felices/