Your Child’s Social Skills and Play

Playing with blocks

A child’s social competence is most simply defined as their ability to play while keeping friends. If the other kids are happy when your child shows up, they want to continue playing with him and the play tends to go well most of the time then his social skills are likely developing at least fairly well. If other kids shun him, stop playing often and the play breaks down repeatedly then his social skills may be an issue. The idea is to watch the child in play and look for patterns that cause the difficulties.  Ask his teachers and other caregivers for their input about his play.

Across the preschool years notable social skills include turn taking and later sharing, listening to others, carrying small then more complex conversations, shifting from parallel to interactive to group play, later building play scenarios and entering into on-going play.  In elementary school personal space issues, negotiation and conflict resolution skills, managing competition, perspective taking and empathy for others and become increasingly important.

Children who struggle with these skills may benefit from more playtime, guided practice and additional coaching activities. Good parenting books include:

  • Raise Your Child’s Social IQ by Cohen
  • Teaching Your Child the Language of Social Success by Duke
  • The Unwritten Rules of Friendship by Elman
If you have questions about social skills, please join me on facebook for a parenting chat every Tuesday night from 10:00 – 11:00pm est.
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