Children learn most of their social skills during their early years. Although these skills will continue to develop and improve well into adulthood, a significant amount of their social skills grow before they start elementary school.
To help you and your children thrive, our experts at ExploraToy have created a list of signs your child has poor social skills, followed by a list of ways you can improve those areas of weakness. By the end of this article, you’ll have a few ideas to help your child grow.
5 Signs Your Child Has Poor Social Skills
How do you tell if your child has poor social skills? Even though parents are with their children all the time, they sometimes have blind spots when it comes to the way their child socializes with others. The following are ### signs your child needs help improving their social skills.
- Your child doesn’t understand body language or facial expressions.
Some children struggle to read body language and facial expressions. While this may be a sign that your child has some sort of sensory processing disorder, it can also be a sign that they need more support to develop healthy social skills.
- Your child struggles to listen when someone is speaking.
Perhaps your child doesn’t listen when you’re giving them directions. While some amount of this is just part of being a kid, chronically struggling to listen is a sign that your child is lacking key social skills.
- Your child doesn’t seem interested in social interactions.
Some children have more introverted tendencies. Although some amount of independent activity is beneficial, it’s important for your child to learn how to engage in social interactions. If your child doesn’t seem interested in talking to anyone about any topic, it may be a sign that they need to work on their social skills.
- Your child has trouble empathizing with others.
Imaginative play is a great way to help your child build empathy and understand emotions. If your child struggles to see things from another person’s point of view, it may be a sign that they’re struggling to learn important social skills.
- Your child interrupts or blurts out at inappropriate times.
It’s important to remember that some amount of this is normal for children, especially toddlers and preschoolers who are still learning how to listen and respond appropriately. However, if your child has an unusually difficult time keeping quiet at important times, it may be a sign that they need to learn how to regulate themselves for social interactions.
How to Help Your Child Improve Social Skills
The good news is that there are lots of ways you can help your child improve his or her social skills. The following are three easy ways to work on social skills with your child.
- Ask questions while you play.
Taking time to engage your child in conversation is a powerful way you can help them learn better social skills. Sometimes parents struggle to come up with ways to encourage their quiet children to engage in conversation.
One great way to do this is by asking questions while you and your children play. For example, you can ask open-ended questions while you and your child build ExploraToy’s Fire Engine Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle together. Ask questions like “Which person in the picture is in danger?” or “What should the man in the house do?” These questions will encourage your child to engage in conversation.
- Practice role playing.
Role playing is a great way to help your child develop empathy and build social skills. For example, you can play house with your child. Ask your child which role they want to play and have them assign you a role. For example, your child might choose to be the parent and decide that you’re the baby. Follow their lead and see where the play takes you.
If there are certain interactions that are more difficult for your child, you can choose to role play those situations. For example, ask your child to pretend that you’re their teacher and they are themselves at school. Walk through the interactions that are difficult for them as a way for them to practice.
- Follow your child’s interests.
Sometimes meeting your child where they’re at is the best way to help them improve their social skills. When your child is doing something they enjoy, they’re more likely to engage in social interaction. Ask your child about something they really love and use that as an opportunity to work on their social skills.
Even if you aren’t talking about their special interests, you can find ways to work conversation into fun activities. For example, playing ExploraToy’s Connect 4-in-a-Row Game together opens doors for you to have conversations with your child while you play. An engaged child is more likely to learn key social skills!
Helping your child build important social skills doesn’t have to be boring or stressful. In fact, taking time to reinforce social skills during play is one of the most effective ways to help your child develop empathy and learn how to communicate with others.
If you’re looking for great ways to engage your child during play, check out ExploraToy’s full selection of great wooden toys. Not only will these toys provide fertile ground for your child’s development, but they’re durable to stand up to years of use. Pick out your child’s new favorite toy here.