Using your social skills to effectively communicate with others is natural, but even adults experience issues while doing that. It’s even harder for kids: meeting and engaging in communication with other children may really scare and confuse them. As a parent, you must teach your kid how to make friends and how to deal with the situations arising during communication correctly.
Generally, as toddlers kids are more interested in playing than in communication. Communication becomes a real issue when your kid gets older and starts attending elementary school. As they grow up, boys and girls approach their groupmates or classmates and make friends with them. However, quite often early school-age kids experience problems which can be divided into several categories:
— conflicts between a child and a group;
— personal conflicts;
— excessive shyness.
You will hardly be able to save your kid from all kinds of conflicts and issues, but you can help your kid develop social skills by explaining the basic rules of behavior.
Basic principles of communication for kids
There are no universal methods that will help your kid develop his social skills: every child needs an individual approach. Still, psychologists recommend that parents explain several important principles of communication to their kids.
Sympathy and involvement are a key to great relationships. If a friend falls down or hurts himself, you always support him. If he gets a new toy, you must feel happy for him.
Friendship is a treasure. Younger kids may find it hard to understand what friendship really is and more often than not they are ready to call a friend everyone they played with once. But it’s very important to let your kid understand that respect, support, and cooperation are the basis for any friendly relationship.
Honesty and fairness are a must. Many kids like fantasizing, but while it’s great to use your imagination when playing, lying is unacceptable when communicating with friends. Older kids also need to understand what fairness is and what they should do if their friends do something unfair.
Love yourself and respect others. It’s quite important to teach your child to be confident and have high self-esteem. But at the same time, you should explain that he must never assert himself at the expense of his friends by humiliating or abusing them.
Anger aimed at others comes home to roost. Tell your child that he shouldn’t overreact each time he hears bad words or offensive nicknames from other kids. If he learns to treat things like this with more composure, his tolerance to stress will help him cope with many difficult situations in the future.
So how can you help your child find friends?
Children who are shy from birth find it hard to make the first step when it comes to communicating to others. They don’t take initiative while playing with other kids and prefer staying alone or with their parents. If your child is like that, you have to help him socialize otherwise communication with other kids will always bring him a great deal of discomfort. Here’s what you can do:
1. Help your kid to make friends with at least one of his peers. With some friendly support, he will get engaged in communication with others much easier.
2. Discuss example scenarios. Talk to your kid about what he would do or say in different situations concerning communication with other kids. Pay special attention to those aspects that confuse your child the most.
3. Boost his confidence. Maybe your child just doesn’t feel confident enough. Praise him often but avoid outright flattery: this will do more harm than good.
4. Don’t be overcontrolling. Sometimes a child is shy because his parents tend to be too bossy. Scared of being judged and criticized by others, kids try to socialize as little as possible.
At the end of the day, it’s you and only you who will make the decision as to what methods you should use to teach your kids to better communicate with others, taking into account his temper and your family traditions. However, it’s important to remember that you are a model to your kids. This basically means that in case your child experiences some issues with socializing, you should analyze your family relationships and communication style.