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How to Encourage Social Development in Children

How to Encourage Social Development in Children

Here's how you can help your little one flourish with their friends.

Children need to learn social skills as soon as they are able. Social intelligence is often a skill that children begin to understand when they are very young. However, it can be a bit difficult for children to grasp the entire concept of social intelligence because their desires or fears can overrule interactions with others. Here are three things both parents and teachers can do to help young children recognize social intelligence and interactions in a positive way.

Point Out Other’s Feelings

Helping your child notice how others are feeling is a key concept in social intelligence. If her friend cries, you can ask, “What can we do to make him feel better?”
These small but significant understandings help your child realize that there is more to the environment than only how they are feeling.

Empathize with Your Child

Empathy is the key ingredient as well. You can start the foundation by empathizing with your child’s feelings—when they are hurt, angry, sad, happy, etc. Children that receive empathy are more likely to give it in return. Empathy is key for relationships and healthy social skills they will need for the entirety of their lives.

Turn Taking 

Parents should introduce the concept of taking turns. This emphasizes not only the child’s needs but the needs of others as well. As the child becomes more comfortable with turn taking, you can ask the child to determine how long they think their turn should be. 

Letting the child decide helps them think about their needs as well as those of others. It opens the door to social development and awareness as they become more secure with themselves and begin to show their empathy towards others.

There are many other takes parents can incorporate into their child’s life to help improve and develop these much-needed social skills. 

Children will begin to show signs of social development at a young age. As parents and teachers, utilizing the methods mentioned above will help your young child learn to reach out, communicate, and understand the way that they are feeling, as well as how others feel. Social development can continue well into their teenage years, and, with a solid foundation, your child will be on track to a well-developed social intelligence.

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Author: Michelle Dell'Aquila, M.D., is the Director of Child Development Advice in Long Island. She has a Master’s Degree in Special Education and is NY State Certified to teach early childhood education both in mainstream and special ed classrooms. She provides developmental assessments, parent training, and teacher support. See More

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