Saturday, August 6, 2016

3 Categories to Develop Social Competence

As I post about social competence many parents may wonder what can I do to develop social competence in my child(ren)? How to help children develop social competence can be placed into three categories: fostering social knowledge and understanding, strengthen interactive skills and provide social skills training.

To help children foster social knowledge children occasionally need adults to help them see the perspective of other children. They need help to learn other children's experiences and home lives may be different from their own. Children also need to  understand the effect of their behaviors on others. For example, if a child tells another child they're ugly, a parent needs to explain to the child that the comment hurt the other child's feelings and made them sad. The parent needs to explain why saying something like that isn't appropriate and explain how that isn't an appropriate way to treat someone.

A parent should encourage different interpretations of behaviors. This will help children strengthen interactive skills. When children label friends, parents can ask the child to find different ways to interpret the child's behavior. For example, if a child calls a classmate a loser after gym class, an adult shouldn't pass it off as kids being kids and that's part of growing up. The child was mean and an adult should teach the child that their behavior was wrong. The adult should teach the child an appropriate way to behave. Maybe the other child isn't good at that particular sport or athletic at all. An adult needs to explain to the child that not all people are athletic. The child who called the classmate a loser needs to be taught that everyone has different things they're good at  and to not  make others feel bad for not being good at something because they have things they're not good at either and what a person isn't good at shouldn't be held against them.

Children learn social skills by participating in social interactions with friends. Children learn important social information from positive social interactions and they need to know the impact of their behavior on others in order for them to learn to behave in socially appropriate ways. For example, if a child starts to talk about another child behind their back when another child stands up for them and has their back they learn what a positive social interaction looks like and that to defend the person is a socially appropriate way to behave and that talking about another person behind their back is inappropriate.

Children need lots of opportunities to interact in situations that promote social skills. These situations can by playing on the playground, with playdough, playing a board game etc. Young children learn appropriate social skills be engaging in social interactions with others. These interactions should be around important subjects and activities. For example, playing with playdough teaches sharing as children have to share the tools being used to play with the playdough. It teaches communication as the children talk to each other about various topics and ask to use tools children are using. It teaches patience as a child may have to wait for a tool until another child is done using it.

When a parent develops and teaches these three categories of social competence into their children it helps children learn how to behave in appropriate ways and it teaches them what society expects of them as far as behaving appropriately which helps children learn how to navigate the world around them. These three categories of social competence will also help children learn how to make friends, keep them and how to treat people with kindness.

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