Social and emotional skills are critical to our children’s success. Research shows that these skills can be learned and taught, and they can have an important impact on students’ ability to thrive in school and in life. While schools are beginning to recognize the importance of strong social and emotional skills, parents and other caregivers play an important role in setting a foundation to help their children develop these skills. Share the following tips with your students’ families to help them incorporate social and emotional learning at home.

1. What are Social Skills and Why are They Important?

When we talk about the social skills needed for your child’s success in school and life, it’s not about popularity or getting your child to be socially outgoing. Developing strong social and emotional skills is really about teaching your child how to have meaningful relationships with others, how to develop a sense of empathy, and how to be able to adapt to stressful situations.

Here is a list of some of the most important social skills that your child will need to be able to thrive in school and life:

  • Be responsible for their behavior
  • Follow rules
  • Get along with others
  • Accept differences in others
  • Have patience
  • Stay calm when interacting with others
  • Listen to others
  • Take turns
  • Do nice things for others
  • Ask for help

2. Model

The best way to teach appropriate behaviors is by setting a good example for your child. What we do is just as (or more!) important as what we say. For example, if your first reaction to your child’s misbehavior is to lose your temper and shout, then your child will learn to shout and throw a tantrum when faced with a stressful situation. Instead, try to stay calm and explain to your child why you want a certain behavior. Of course, children are experts at pushing your buttons, and all parents will likely lose their temper at times. This is natural, but if this is always your first reaction, then it will likely become your child’s first reaction as well.

3. Practice

An important step to teaching your child social and emotional skills is to practice these skills on a regular basis. There are many ways to practice these skills, and it can be as simple as doing something nice for a friend or sibling, for example (i.e. “Let’s surprise your brother and make his favorite meal for dinner”).
Reading stories is another great way to teach social and emotional skills. See our post 10 Books to Help Kids Understand Their Feelings for some great books that will help your child learn to understand and cope with their feelings.

There are also many games that help build social and emotional skills in children. Here are a couple websites that provide social and emotional games that you can play with your child:

Playing & Learning Imaginative Games that Teach Social and Emotional Skills

Social Skills Games for Kids

4. Reinforce

It is important to take time to review and reflect on your child’s use of social skills each day. Having a simple conversation can help reinforce the lessons learned that day. Also, be sure to celebrate your child’s successes – if you make a big deal out of their positive behavior, your child will likely want to repeat the behavior.

Have something to add? We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below!