Parents, siblings, mentors, and friends are all relationships that play an overwhelming role in your child’s social and emotional development. With the higher presence of online learning and activities, parents may be worried about how their child will be able to maintain vital social relationships. The future may be unclear right now, but we do know that your child can still enhance social skills and relationships at home. If you make it a point of focus, your kiddo can be a successful social butterfly.
Practicing social skills is a must for any kiddo. This involves what is called social-emotional skills. These skills are essential for creating connections to other people and understanding how emotions relate to strong relationships. It’s exciting to know that kiddos will acquire social-emotional skills from birth and onward! Pathways.org provides excellent examples and shares age-appropriate milestones when building upon social-emotional skills. If you’re practicing social skills with your kiddo, you’ll want to give social-emotional skills an emphasis because they are so important for keeping and building long-term relationships.
Surrounding Your Kiddo with Social Experiences
As we lean toward virtual learning, we know parents are both eager and a little nervous to take on the new challenges of a new school year. If you’re concerned about your kiddo making social connections, ask your school about what resources they offer for student-to-student interactions. At home, aim to be a role model and demonstrate social interactions from the words you speak to the non-verbal aspects such as eye contact. Planning ahead and creating social interactions can be done in some pretty creative ways. Ultimately, keep surrounding your kiddo with various social experiences at home too.
Go Digital for Social Skills
Maybe this is a no brainer, but a Zoom call with a friend or family member will help your child practice their dialogue. Go ahead and set up regular meetings with someone. Even online get-togethers will give your child an opportunity to sharpen their social skills.
Talk it Up
Talk to your kiddo as much as possible! Show them eye contact and that you’re engaged with the conversation. Be a good role model for them. Plus, your kiddo probably already loves to talk to you. Take advantage of the time that you get to spend together interacting, sharing stories, and asking open-ended questions.
Tell all the Stories
Made up or real, story-telling will allow your kiddo to improve their social-emotional skills. Telling stories can give your child a way to understand how others feel in those stories. Who doesn’t love a good story anyway?
Reduce Social Media Time
Although social media can be a way to connect for teens, it can also lead to issues such as mental health issues and cyberbullying. Teach your kiddo how to navigate the online world in a healthy and responsible manner. Taking breaks is good! Set limits for how frequently sites are checked and how long your kiddo spends on it. This should go for parents too who are acting as role models. Get off the phone, Mom!
Schedule Family Nights
No matter the size of a family, family nights can be a time to get chatty and have a good time in person. Put the computer away and pull out the board games. You could even spend an evening at the park if you’re looking to get out. Making time for social activities, even within the family, will go a long way for your kiddo as they continue to learn and grow in a social world.
Some conditions such as ADHD or anxiety could contribute to social challenges. Reach out to us to learn more about how occupational or speech therapy can be a great benefit.