Teaching People Skills from a Young Age
Have you ever noticed how kids can learn some skills in what it seems like no time? It’s not really an assumption anymore that their little brains acquiring new knowledge at a rate which would be impossible for us. Science is still debating what exactly happens inside a toddlers mind, but one popular theory that is true, at least to some length, is that their brains are not overloaded with various information and experiences, and they approach every new problem with a clean slate, objectively. If there were ever a period in a child’s life that ought to be invested in, it is the formative years, including the pre-K period. Social skills are a mandatory part of the deal, since a lot of our problem-solving skills in a social environment, as well as our ability for group work, stem from this particular period.
What your toddler needs to learn
Although your child will step into relationships without prejudice, looking friendly interactions with their peers, their fears and desires often get in the way. One of the first things you can do to help them develop a firm ground in social intelligence is to show them how to handle their emotions, the building blocks of any successful relationship. After that you should help them in developing empathy and negotiating skills, which, in their age, would be expressing their desires without attacking others. Assertive behavior is natural to children, though they will aim to mimic the adults around them, and fall into the web of appearances and mistrust that we have woven so cleverly around us.
Most parents agree that engaging children in sport activities is one of the best ways to help them develop social intelligence and we will not question that. Other than improving physical fitness, sport helps your children make friends, cope with winning and losing and understand what fair play is. We will mention though that challenging physical activity might be too much for the youngest toddlers. Regular play should be their primary method in developing imagination and intelligence and the playground gives them an opportunity for all of that. With simple games like tag or fantasy role playing children embrace social rules and are free to experiment with various emotions. They learn through trial and error how to work together, negotiate, compromise and approach their peers the best way.
Developing social skills indoors
Although an indoor setting limits the number of participants, children learn some valuable lessons indoors too. There are plenty of truly fun educational toys that engage children in cooperative problem solving. Toys such as dolls, cars and cooking sets encourage them to solve real life situations and develop empathy. However, toys need to be approached in the right way. Don’t force kids to share, that actually delays the development of the will to share. Instead, introduce them to playing turns and let them decide how long they will be. If one child has had their fill with a toy, they will be ready to give it away. Instead, help the other children waiting for their turn, and use that time effectively. You should not be the ever-present authority, a mediator is a better role. Help them express their feelings and guide them to a solution, but they will have to discover social skills independently.
Every child needs an individualized approach, of course, but don’t be afraid to face them with difficult emotions and choices when needed. Instead of avoiding, your children should be solving problems in interaction with peers and by doing that, develop emotions and social intelligence.