Think about how you interact with your family and friends, and how you make and keep friends. Is your behavior setting a good example for your child? Are there certain relationships or areas that you can work on? Evaluating your own relationship skills is a crucial step in teaching your child about social management, and by being reflective, responsive and supportive, you are helping to nurture your child’s sense of social and emotional well-being.
Ask your child to help make her favorite dish by following your directions, one at a time. Make sure to say “please” and “thank you” and acknowledge all of her efforts. This will not only help her learn about the art of listening, but teach her about the importance of being polite to others, especially while working on group projects.
Don’t be satisfied with one-word answers. Often, parents have a lot on their plate and are happy to keep discussions brief, but children need practice in expressing themselves clearly and completely. Make sure to point out when she says something that is thoughtful or when she uses her language skills appropriately. For example, when she says something kind about others, like, “Sally was nice to me today because she shared her snacks with me,” or if she poses a good question during your conversation, “Can I take some snacks to share with Sally tomorrow?” When she asks something that is not related to what you are talking about or not clearly expressed, help her stay within the conversation.
A helpful approach is to ask good questions about what she thinks she should do in any situation, and what the consequences of her particular solution will be. For example, if she is having a hard time with a classmate, you can say, “If your friend doesn’t want to play with you, you might want to ask her if you did anything to hurt her feelings. Do you think you should say sorry? If you say sorry, she might feel better. If she did something to you, maybe you can ask her why she did that.” You may not be around to solve any difficulties that occur, and it is better to start helping your child build this essential skill when she is young and problems are less serious.
Ask your child who her friends are, and then ask her about the qualities that she looks for in a friend and how she likes her friends to treat her. For example, ask her, “Why do you like to play with Jamal after school? What makes him a good friend?” Make sure to ask her about qualities that she doesn’t like, and what makes her a good friend to others. For example, “Has Shannon ever said anything that made you feel sad?”