“The more we are together, the happier we’ll be” sang 2 dozen children at an event in my son’s Montessori. It was a nice song with a catchy tune, but only later did I think about the deeper meaning of it. We all need people around us to make us feel loved, wanted and cared for. Social skills are essential to prepare a child for a lifetime of relationships. As a parent, you can help your child develop these important skills by following these pointers.
1. Exposure to other kids.
From an early age, try and let your child interact with others his age. Earlier, with the joint family set up, children had cousins and multiple siblings and this was not an issue. With families increasingly shrinking, play dates and other social events have become popular to compensate. Post the age of 2, a play school which allows your child to follow his own pace is also recommended.
2. Don't compare
Never compare your child to other children, be it family or their friends. Every child has their own strengths and weaknesses. Do not put down your child or belittle him in front of others. He will start to withdraw and go into his own shell. Constant criticism can scar a child for a lifetime.
3. Be caring and affectionate
Nobody likes a bully. That applies to kids too. Anybody who tries to throw a tantrum and get attention will not be liked by the others. Teach your little one to be caring and affectionate to those around them. This is a key aspect that will draw others towards him and expand his social circle.
4. Teaching them to share
Sharing is something that needs to be practiced at a young age. Practice it regularly at home and give them opportunities to share so that they can do the same with others. Read up on some pointers on how to teach children to share in our earlier blog.
5. Develop good manners
No matter how much the world has developed and evolved over the centuries, the value of P’s and Q’s still holds well. Speak in soft tones with your child and be polite in your conversations. Children pick a lot of cues from the environment.
6. Appreciate differences
Kids should be exposed to people from different walks of life, be it social strata, religion or language. When they learn to appreciate differences and not shun anybody, they will grow up to be tolerant and secular human beings. This is one aspect in which the attitude of the parents reflects a lot, as the children tend to mirror them.
Good manners, communication skills and sensitivity are key elements in developing a well-rounded personality. It will pay off in the long run.