Helping your child develop their social skills 

In the current situation your child will probably have less interaction with family friends and children of their own age. Experts believe that children can still keep developing their social skills during the current situation and the most important thing our children need at this time are loving, calm, supportive parents who can be positive role models and treat each other with love and respect.

As a parent, there are a number of ways to promote your child’s social skills, although this will be dependent on the age of your child:

Sharing – Encourage children to share and give praise when they do. Find ways to demonstrate sharing with your child or other members of your household on a regular basis to act as a good role model.

Cooperating – Being able to cooperate with others to achieve a common goal is an important skill to learn.  While playing or when doing household chores with your child is a great time to practice cooperation skills. You could build a tower of blocks or work together to sort out the socks after doing the laundry. 

Empathy - At around 2 years of age, children start to show genuine empathy, understanding how other people feel even when they don't feel the same way themselves.  You can help them to gain empathy by talking about your own feelings, so that they know that other people can feel happy or sad, brave or afraid, pleased or annoyed, just like they do sometimes. Easy things to do in your home include: 

  • Reading their favourite book and discussing how a character might be feeling in a given situation
  • Praising them for being kind, or pointing out when someone else is being kind, 
  • Playing a fun game where they have to guess or express an emotion without words or just using facial expressions.

Active Listening – Encouraging your child to practice active listening, so they can learn to absorb what someone else says, will help them develop healthy communication skills. One way that you can do this is by reading a book with your child, stopping every now and then to ask them what they remember of the story so far.  

Following Instructions – Many parents agree that this is a really important skill to learn! Giving simple instructions one at a time (e.g. please put your toys in the box) can help your child learn this skill. Once they have done what you have asked them to do, thank them, give them praise and tell them how it has made you feel. e.g  Thank you for putting the toys in the box when I asked you.  That was really helpful, and made me happy.

Manners –Simple things like saying please and thank you go a long way to making a good impression and giving praise when your child behaves in the way that you want them to reinforces these positive results for them.  Modelling the behaviour for your child is the best way to teach manners and other social skills to your child. If they don’t behave in the way you want them to, use it as a teachable moment and talk about it calmly, and tell them how it makes you feel. 

For further information on behaviour and child development, go to the Welsh Government website.