A child’s social behavior is best reinforced when parents are kind, sincere and non-judgmental. Remember that your child is looking to you to set an example of how to interact with others, and that taking a moment to consider how you interact with others is an important part of nurturing your child’s social skills.
To help your child learn about the need for respectful behavior, help him create a family credo, coat of arms or crest. Talk with him about your beliefs and expectations, and work with him to come up with a list of your family’s values, like trust, respect, kindness and generosity. After you have this list, ask your child to identify three different ways that he can apply these values in social situations. You may also want to write out all of this information on a poster board and hang it in a central area in your home as a reminder of your family’s values and expectations.
To help your child understand and respect the perspectives of others, talk with him about a book that he’s reading or a television show or movie that he watched recently, and ask him what would happen if the story were written from another perspective. For example, a book about King Arthur and Merlin the sorcerer can be told from Merlin’s sister Morgana’s perspective. Or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory can be told from Charlie’s grandfather’s point of view. By doing this, you are not only teaching your child how to see life through different lenses, but also building his capacity for empathy and understanding.
Talk to your child about social issues like immigration and racial and gender inequality. When you’re watching the evening newscast or reading the morning paper, ask your child to give you his opinion on these issues and talk to him about the people involved on both sides. These types of stories make children aware of historical events and allow them to relate to the hardships and joys of others. They also help children to learn more about conflict resolution and the importance of respecting others and their opinions.