Studies have shown that the single best predictor of how a child will adjust to life as an adult is how well they get along with others. It’s not the I.Q. score, or grades in school, or how a child behaves in school. Social skills are the single best predictor of adult success.
Learning social skills begins at birth. We are born social, with the need to interact. It starts out with children bonding with their parents, then broadens to children playing with siblings and friends, and eventually going to school and becoming part of the larger community. Social competency involves the ability to have positive relationships with people, engage well with others, and it also involves the ability to emotionally handle the “ups” and “downs” in life. Social skills are learned and take time to mature. Social competency grows and changes over a person’s lifetime.
Along with children’s social developmental, other key developmental growth (social, physical, emotional, language, cognitive) is occurring at the same time. All of these developmental areas are connected and affect one another in some way. For example, as children’s language skills increase, so does their ability to express their feelings and to play more cooperatively with others.
What Are Positive Social Skills
Most parents would agree that they want their children to be happy, liked by others and to get along well with others. Being able to feel good about themselves, having positive relationships and being part of different groups involves several developmental skills. All of these qualities are a part of social development and parents will see their children go through different stages and become skillful in how they engage with other people throughout their growth.
How a child behaves in different situations will vary. There are several influences on child’s behavior, such as cultural background, family patterns, a child’s personality or temperament, and specific events going on in a child’s life. To decide how socially-skilled a child is, you need to observe overall patterns of the child’s interactions with and reactions to others overtime. You also should know what is going on in a child’s life that may also affect their behavior. This observation and assessment needs to happen overtime, and in various situations, not just one observation.
As with all major areas of developmental growth in children, there are typical skills and patterns children show in their social development. With social and emotional skills, sometimes the milestones are harder to detect because a lot of the development is inward (self-awareness, self-regulation). Yet, there are still some visible signs to look for, as your child behaves with others, reacts to people and situations, and handles frustration and changes.
So, what do parents look for or use to determine if their child is developing healthy social skills? When you are looking at your child’s social development, ask yourself the following questions:
* Does my child show compassion? Empathy?
* Does my child cooperate with others?
* Does my child voice his needs and stand up for himself?
* Does my child show an interest in what is going on around her?
* Does my child pick up on social cues?
* Does my child know how to become part of a group?
* Is my child able to problem-solve as part of a group?
* Does my child have a sense of independence?
* How does my child handle conflict, rejection or other “negative” feedback?
* Is my child responsible?
* Does my child show self-control?
* Is my child able to soothe himself and calm himself down?
All of these qualities and behaviors are needed to maintain healthy and positive social skills and help children manage their world.
Any difficulties in social skill development is often not seen until children reach school-age. Developing friendships and being accepted by their peers is very important during the school-age years.