The struggle is real for the child who is lacking in the social skills department. As parents, we agonize over the fall out; a lonely child, vulnerability to bullying, impatient adults in their world with high expectations, and much more.
There is so much we could say about helping your child develop social skills. Volumes have been written on the subject. Many professionals dedicate whole vocations to helping kids hone in these skills.
As a parent, you are wondering what YOU need to know and how can YOU help your child today.
In this blogpost we can only touch on the strategies we help parents to develop in helping their children with social skills, but we hope that this writing will open your eyes and give you new awareness of the “hit the bullseye” information that has made a difference for our children and for countless other children whose parents we have had the privilege of walking alongside.
So we are going to share 3 Tips to Help Your Child Develop Social Skills
Tip #1: Understand the pieces of a strong developmental foundation. Often our children who have challenges have a hiccup in their development. The good news there is that if the development got stuck, there are things you can do to create an environment where new pathways in the brain can open and new connections can happen which can greatly enhance the development of the child. The most foundational of the child development steps that we see going awry with kids are:
- Retained Reflexes. When a baby is being formed, there are certain reflexes that are used in utero. When a baby is born, some of those reflexes are to either go away or integrate with higher level reflexes. Over the course of the next few months and years of baby’s development, reflexes are to continue to integrate. Sometimes during this process, some primitive reflexes that are supposed to integrate actually get stuck and they “retain” instead. This can cause the child problems.
- Underdeveloped Gross motor skills. Army crawling and hands and knees creeping are critical developmental steps in building a strong foundation for a child’s developing brain. When a child skips either of these stages, doesn’t do it long enough, or doesn’t do it in a cross pattern, synchronized motion, this can cause problems for a child.
- Low Sequential Processing. This is short term memory. An underdeveloped auditory sequential processing ability can contribute to poor social skills.
- Knowing these foundational developmental steps and the possibility that your child may have gotten stuck in the development of them somewhere along the way, can be key to helping a child with social skills as well as any other challenges they may have.
Tip #2: Understand the components of good relationships. Another piece of the puzzle to helping a child develop good social skills is to teach the components. Some children naturally pick up the nuances of facial expressions and body language. Some children key in on language so they can interpret communication. Some children have trouble with these things. No worries. You can teach them. When Amy was younger, we realized that she did not have the ability to understand idioms. When you come right down to it, idioms like “it’s raining cats and dogs” really make no sense at all. Black and white - literal - thinkers look at you like you have six heads when you say things like “the ball is in your court” or “you are barking up the wrong tree”. They make no sense. But if you teach these idioms and other relationship skills like reading facial expressions and body language – you can turn on the light for your child.
Tip #3: Develop a plan to build these in your child.
- Work with a professional who understands how to open pathways and make new connections that can get your child’s developmental foundation strong.
- Study up on the components for good relationship building yourself so you know how to teach them to your child. There is a lot we take for granted in life until something goes amiss. We often don’t think about the finer details of relationship building until we need to teach someone. This is true for any life skill. Make a list of the key elements for building friendships. Skills like taking turns, considering the wishes/opinions of others, knowing common idioms, sharing your own ideas in a kind way, being flexible, and observing the people and situations around you are all important. It may take your child many lessons before they start to pick up on these skills. Don’t give up. Keep teaching until you see the skills taking root.
- After studying some good relationship/friendship building skills, devise an avenue for teaching them to your child. Here are a few tools:
- Role playing
- Story telling
- Social Stories
- Digital Recordings
Sometimes our children need a little more help in picking up the skills that will serve them for a lifetime. Some children need a LOT more help. You can do this.
If you are looking for more support in your parenting journey in the areas of child development, parenting strategies, and/or nutrition, email us at MarchForthFamily@gmail.com and we can get the conversation started.
Tom and Julie Meekins
Image courtesy of: Akarakingdoms-freedigitalphotos.net. jpg