2nd Grade Social Awareness

Social awareness is the ability to take the perspectives of others and apply it to your interactions with them. It is also being aware of socially acceptable behavior. For example, in the United States, when a person meets someone, they shake hands; in other cultures a greeting could be a bow or kiss. At this early age, children are learning how to interact with others and how to recognize their feelings and needs, although they may not yet know how to apply empathy to all of their interactions. For instance, your child may not fully understand why a classmate gets upset when she takes a pencil away without asking for it. As your child grows and becomes more socially aware, she should be able to better-identify how her actions make others feel. Daily interactions with peers and teachers can also help build your child’s social awareness, but you play the greatest role in her social development.  

What Does Social Awareness Look Like at This Age?
During the early elementary years, children are learning how to communicate their needs and emotions verbally, and how to identify what others are feeling based on their facial expressions and body language. 
As children gain a better sense of other people’s perspectives and behaviors, and start to understand that feelings play a major role in the nature of relationships, they are developing social awareness. 
By the time your child is 7 to 8 years old, she should be sensitive to others’ feelings and respond well to group interactions. Occasionally, children who are 7 or 8 find that their word skills far exceed their social and emotional skills. At this age, they can be quite skilled at saying comments that are hurtful or harsh without realizing their impact. As your child begins to understand that there are more and less appropriate ways to express herself and that what she says and does affects others, she is strengthening her ability to make friends and be a productive part of her community. 
Keep in mind that every child has different levels of social awareness, as this can be a product of both their nature and the interactions they have had since infancy. Some children may display a low level of social awareness, when in fact they are shy or introverted. Children’s literature can be a good way to level the playing field, as it contains relevant examples that can help your child understand her behavior and the behavior of others, which she will need to do in order to successfully engage in her relationships.

Tips to Support Social Awareness

  1. Discuss Situations That Occur in Everyday Life

    Take a conversation you had with a friend, family member, or clerk at the supermarket that your child has witnessed and ask her to point out the language, body language and facial expressions that were exchanged. You can also role play with her stuffed animals or favorite toys to show what she would have done in that situation. Even though your child was present when you had this exchange, it’s always a good idea to ask her what she thinks happened, how people felt, and how she could tell this, before you provide your own interpretation of the situation.

  2. Play a Game of "Feelings Charades"

    A good way to teach your child about body language, emotions, and empathy is to have her play a game of “Feelings Charades.” You can use flash cards with different faces, or even write emotions or behaviors that hurt others on pieces of paper and let your child pick one out of a hat. Take turns acting out the way a person would be feeling with either the emotion that’s on the paper or the face that’s on the card. This will help start discussions on topics that a child this age might be reluctant to talk about otherwise.

  3. Observe the Behavior of Pets

    If you have pets, you can also use them to help teach your child about social awareness. A dog or a cat, for example, will behave in specific ways when it is feeling happy, angry, playful or tired. Point out these behaviors to your child as they appear, and explain to her how these emotions are similar to those experienced by the people around her.

  4. Teach Your Child About Personal Space

    Be specific when you are talking about what’s appropriate and what’s not, and provide her with visual cues. For example, you can have her stretch out her arms and explain that this is her personal space, and that she should provide other children with that much space when interacting with them. Remind her that when she gets too close to another person or touches them, they might react negatively. You can also use stuffed animals or action figures to act out what’s appropriate and what is not.

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Featured Topics

Social awareness is the ability to consider the perspectives of others and apply them to your interactions. Featured topics in this section include empathy, kindness, curiosity and respecting diversity, as well as tips on how you can help your child develop these abilities and build his social awareness.

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