Developing Social Skills in Early Childhood

Social skills development begins with infants and continues well into the teen years. Early childhood is a very formative time for basic social skills like empathy, sharing and taking turns.

Here’s a quick overview of what to focus on and how social skills are developed at home.

Expressing emotions in healthy ways

Once children develop the ability to speak, they should learn healthy ways to express themselves through words and actions. Many kids cry or throw toys when they don’t know how else to express anger or sadness. Parents should help their children label these emotions, so they can verbally communicate their feelings rather than act out.

Fun activities at home can teach children about emotions. Read a picture book to your child, and then ask questions like, “How did the character feel? What would make you feel that way?” You can also teach kids the proper way to express emotions by modeling healthy behavior in your own interactions with others.

Sharing toys with their peers

Group interactions are a huge part of how social skills are developed. Your child can learn which actions are appropriate or cause others to become upset. Kids need group playtime, so they learn how to share possessions with people their own age. Sharing teaches kids about compromise and the value of bettering the group as a whole.

Sharing develops when two or more children play in the same environment. Organize a playdate with their friends, or politely ask your child to hand you a toy. This aspect of social skills development is crucial because your child will eventually interact with their peers at school without your supervision.

Waiting their turn to speak

In addition to sharing, children must learn how to verbally communicate in a group environment. This includes waiting until someone is finished speaking before they add to the conversation. Taking turns is important for social skills development because it will help them navigate situations at school and work when they grow up.

A great activity to practice at home is asking family members about their day. Go around the dinner table, and encourage people to speak one at a time. If your child interjects before it’s their turn, gently remind them to wait until others are done speaking.

Showing compassion for others

Children should learn empathy at an early age. Doing so will set them up for success when they make friends and interact with people in general. Help your child recognize what others are feeling in certain scenarios, so they learn how to respond appropriately.

One clever way to teach empathy is by playing an episode from their favorite TV show with the sound off. Ask your child to describe how the characters are feeling based on their facial expressions and body language.

Parents play a huge role in how social skills are developed. Positive role modeling at home lays a solid foundation for kids to apply these social skills in an academic environment. Help your child thrive among their peers by checking out the early childhood programs at Assumption Academy. We can’t wait to meet you!