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Social Skills

We are all socialized depending on our culture, beliefs & values, life experiences, and in the opportunities we are given to learn how to be appropriately social within our communities. We must all be understanding of people who struggle with socializing, this can be very difficult for some, and they should be praised for trying, no matter how small or large the success.

Topic this Week: Social Skill Development

Positive Parenting Strategies #1 re: Infants/Toddlers & Social Skills

At this stage children are learning a sense of who they are, where they belong, and how relationships are formed. Children are not born knowing how to behave, and many “mistakes” will be made. Here are some tips about how to nurture social skill development:

· Model appropriate verbal and non-verbal communication

· Praise appropriate behaviours

· Show them what to-do in different situations using age/developmentally appropriate language and actions

· Pretend play! At this stage (and I would argue at all stages of life) we learn through play opportunities

· At these ages, children are mainly learning social rules by observing others

· Provide toys and other materials beside other infants/toddlers

· Introduce the concepts of fair play e.g.: sharing

· Love, attention, and affection to promote emotional well-being

· Be responsive during interactions

· Refrain from electronics as much as possible, as the brain is developing extremely quickly at this stage of life

· If you notice a delay in social skills, not to worry! We all learn in our own time. During your next check-up you can tell your Dr about your concerns, or another avenue would be to ask an child care professional if your concerns may be justified. There is a lot of help in our community for children 0-6:

Positive Parenting Strategies #2 re: Preschoolers and Social Skills

· As written above, praise and model appropriate social behaviours

· Provide many opportunities to socialize, and guide the child’s behaviour as situations arise

· Tell them what to-do (not what not to do) in social situations

· Begin to teach empathy for others

· Give sympathy to your child when they need it

· Develope a loving and trusting relationship with the child

· Set-up the environment for 2-person socializing, e.g.: sandbox play, pool play, truck play etc… (this is called parallel play)

· Teach them the correct language to enter play, how to politely say no to play, and general manners. Allow them to practice.

· Teach them how to resolve play conflicts in a positive manner

· It is ok for us to simply say “we don’t always get what we want. I know it’s tough, but it is the same for me; I don’t always get what I want either”. Show empathy, this is a hard lesson to accept!

· Include culturally important events and family get-togethers to foster their identity and sense of belonging

Positive Parenting Strategies #3 re: Adolescent/Youth and Social Skills

· It is very important that your youth has a mentor in their lives, someone to look up to. Even if this is a sports figure or a motivational speaker on YouTube (or you!). Someone to help guide them forward in positive ways (mine was Oprah growing up😊)

· Promote friendships with people who are a good influence

· Provide opportunities for useful skills e.g.: sports, fishing, art, cooking, baby-sitting, lawn mowing, snow shoveling, archery, exploring, etc…

· Expose them to learning environments with like-minded people, e.g.: activities at schools/colleges, encourage them to talk about their interests with others

· Include them in family/community gatherings

· Praise their social successes

· Listen to their friend-problems without judgement; suggest options to try to solve the issue or ask them what they are going to do, if anything

· Remember: adolescence and youth usually quickly move-on from social drama with friends. It is not necessary for caregivers to bring up situations that are likely already forgotten

· Teach them about love , relationships, puberty, and safe sexual behaviour (age/developmentally appropriate)

· Include culturally important events and family get-togethers to foster their identity and belonging

· Your youth may not be in a large peer group, but one friend can make all the difference

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