Social Skills

Guiding children in their social development can be one of the toughest areas, and yet one of the most important in helping them develop to be secure, yet independent adults.

The most important and first social interaction for a child is with Mom.  The mother-baby bond, the nurturing, the intonation of voice, the laughing, the cuddling, the instructing, the kindness, the kisses, the singing, the diaper changing, the feeding process and more are all part of the social interaction with Mom.  Babies are born knowing their mother's voice and preferring it above all others.

The second person and the other most important relationship that impacts social skills and friendships is the child's relationship with Dad.  Dads can expect a more bonded relationship to blossom later–perhaps even in a year to four years, but with kindness and patience the social relationship with Dad impacts the emotional and social well-being of both boys and girls far more than any research study can prove.

Parents teach social skills, conversation, styles of loving, humor, turn-taking, sharing, and group interaction primarily by modeling.  That model is there all the time and is more powerful during the first 10 years than any other influence.

Social skills, like all other skills are learned and not instinctively developed.  That is why children who have several caretakers, such as a daycare worker, may develop a preferred bond with the primary provider (who is the one that spends the most waking hours with the child).  When children spend more time with other children, they learn social skills from peers, who also have limited social skills and cannot provide instruction. 

Social skills programs and character education can be somewhat effective, although the reinforcement and practice can be contrived and lack opportunities for generalization in natural social settings.

Social skills in young children and in elementary aged children is one reason many parents choose to home educate.  Knowing that children learn best and develop character traits and social skills from a model, under consistent and loving direction makes homeschooling a natural environment to teach social skills.

Social skills programs that are developmentally appropriate, as well as for training children with special needs are available when teachers and parents need some ideas and help.  Check out the Social Skills/Character Traits section of both the special needs catalog and the homeschool catalog.

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