Social skills are behaviors and any other forms of communications required to start and maintain proper relationships.
- making friends
- initiating conversations
- handling bullies
- having a good sportsmanship
However, social skills must be learned. And as they are the building blocks for future healthy relationships, it’s important to get the foundations right for your children.
Why Are Social Skills Important?
Children and adolescents need to develop social skills since they can be used to predict their success in the future. Researchers based at Duke University and Pennsylvania State University identified that youth who had more social skills were highly likely to graduate from an undergraduate institution. Social skills have also been linked to independence, job success and overall emotional well-being.
The life and career coaches at Open for Life agree with this sentiment. They say, “it would certainly be advantageous to guide children in the art of nurturing relationships. Along the way they will develop empathy, self-regulation, and problem solving skills that will help them lead better lives.
People with adaptive social skills have a superior ability to solve problems, observe and respond accordingly to any social situations.
Most people assume that people without social skills or those with underdeveloped ones might be a sign of neurodiversity or autism. However, that’s quite a misconception. Keep in mind that most children usually pick up behaviors and social cues naturally but there are a few who don’t.
For instance, some kids are likely going to be caught up in gossip but others will respond in an impulsive manner.
Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, autism and depression often suffer many challenges when it comes to socializing and interacting with other people. Symptoms of these conditions usually affect their socialization.
What Happens To Those With Underdeveloped Social Skills?
It’s not mandatory for children to become social butterflies.
Each child will develop their own personality traits that will provide better clues as to how they interact with other people. Most people thrive in their lives because of positive relationships with other people.
Teenagers or children with properly developed social skills eventually gain confidence in their abilities to approach any situation and eventually complete their tasks successfully.
As mentioned, social skills are important for children and adolescents because they will be used to determine their future success. As a parent, you need to identify and evaluate any difficulties in your child’s life. Someone with poor social skills might be on the receiving end of peer rejection, conflict, bullying, depression, social isolation, anxiety, anger and poor academic performance.
When you notice these things, you need to address them immediately. You should also inform your child’s teachers to create a proper plan to help the child address their challenges with social skills and improve their behaviour.
With time, the child will start feeling better. Failure to address these issues with social skills, the issues will persist when the child grows up.
According to the personal growth experts at Mindset Mastery, some of our childhood experiences have long-term implications. They note, “Eventually, these issues can become severe and have a serious impact on academic performance, interaction and also the ability to get or maintain a job. Your child can have serious problems thriving when they eventually become adults.”
Can Social Skills Be Taught?
Yes, children can learn social skills as part of their early learning.
Teachers, parents and mental health professionals can work independently or collaboratively to allow children to develop their social skills. Note that, social skills can vary accordingly so you need to identify where your child actually needs help. Here are some of the different types of social skills that are beneficial in today’s world.
#1 - Survival Skills: Listening, following directions or ignoring
#2 - Interpersonal Skills: Joining a conversation, sharing and taking turns when talking in a group
#3 - Problem-solving Skills: Decide what to do or the most appropriate action to take, asking for help and identifying the right time to apologize for anything.
#4 - Conflict Resolution Skills: Includes dealing with bullying or teasing, handling peer pressure, losing or being a good sport.
The area of focus when teaching social skills should be desirable behaviors. Parents and teachers should focus on the behaviors they want to see from children and not the rest. Classroom activities can be beneficial in this regard.
For instance, it’s a good idea to teach children phrases they can use to start a conversation instead of telling them something negative like ‘don’t ignore people when they speak to you.’
You should also give children enough time to practice social skills. They are tough and will take a while to master. With enough time, children will start improving given the space to do so.
Does the child still have a hard time mastering social skills even after assistance?
Do they have difficulties with bullying or relational conflict?
Do you find your child shy or impulsive around others?
Do they have difficulties with peer pressure?
Do they have a hard time making social decisions?
The help of a professional can make a huge difference. As mentioned, social skills are important so you need to enrol your child in a social skills group. Here, they will get direct instruction, role-playing, modelling, positive reinforcement and team building activities.
There are different types of social skills groups available.
You need to find the right group for your child that is specifically designed for their age. According to some studies, spending time with yoga practitioners can actually be beneficial by helping children understand and process feelings of stress, anger or hurt that might otherwise stand in the way of their development.
Also, the group should address the specific social skills challenges that your child is suffering from. That way, your child can get the help they need with their social skills and avoid further difficulties when interacting with other people in their lives.
The importance of social skills can’t be underestimated.