4 Little Ways to Build Kids' Social Skills at Home
Kids may be missing out on usual social moments during the pandemic, but there are ways for parents to fill in those gaps at home.
Many are feeling the effects of social distancing, but the situation is especially tricky for school-age kids, who are at an important developmental stage for creating friendships and learning how to better communicate. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to help your kid develop the following social skills.
Kids may be experiencing all the feels but might not have the words to express it. Check in regularly, with age-appropriate methods, such as a feelings chart that shows different facial expressions. “Ask, ‘How are you doing today?’ and have them point to their answer, which allows for an open discussion,” Campana says. And you can use your kid’s favorite show or film to get them to recognize emotions in others. “After watching a cartoon, ask, ‘What do you think that character was feeling?’” Campana suggests.
Learning to do things on their own—whether it’s a chore or tying their shoes—boosts self worth, which encourages kids to interact with peers in the long run. “Whenever possible, give them choices. For example, at breakfast, say, ‘You can choose between waffles or cereal,’” Campana says. “That way, they have more confidence when they reenter the social world.”
When talking to your child, get on their level. Not only are they likelier to listen, but they’ll return to school knowing that looking at someone directly is key for communication. “But remember, your child is always watching,” says Campana. “So when talking, be sure to make eye contact with everyone in the family, including your spouse or partner.”
Board games are a quarantine staple, but they can do a lot of good for your kid’s development. “A family game night is great for teaching the importance of empathy, following rules, taking turns, and teamwork—all skills they would’ve learned through play at school,” says Campana.
This article originally appeared in Parents Latina's October/November 2020 issue as “Socialize at Home.”