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How parents can help their children develop social skills

Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Social skills are among the most important skills your child will learn, allowing them to establish positive relationships and develop healthy self-esteem. However, the
23 Aug 2008 12:00

image Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Social skills are among the most important skills your child will learn, allowing them to establish positive relationships and develop healthy self-esteem. However, the skills that your child is developing are sometimes hard to monitor, making this one of the most difficult areas in which to assist your child.
From birth to age four, your child will be developing in many areas, including becoming independent, self-expression, getting along with others and confidence.

We parents need to:
l Create a supportive and loving home environment.
l Encouraging your child to learn self-care behaviours.
l Development your child’s self-esteem.
l Understanding your child’s unique personality.
l Managing your child’s frustrations and challenging behaviour.
l Helping your child cope with new situations.
In the first fours years of your child’s life you will notice huge amounts of growth and development. Your child will be learning many skills, developing the ability to communicate and begin the journey towards an independent person.

One of the important areas of your child’s early development is their social development. These include:
l How to get along with people.
l About feelings and how to express them.
l How to cope with frustrations and challenges that confront them.
l How to behave appropriately.
l How to care fr themselves.
l How to be independent.
l How to be involved in group situations outside the home.
Remember, that you are your child’s first and most influential teacher in this area of development.
Being a parent is one of life’s most wonderful gifts. It also brings along with it many worries, concerns, questions and doubts. We all want the best for our children and we often put lots of pressure on ourselves to deliver this. Our expectations of both our children and ourselves at times can be way too high.
By understanding what stage your child is at in terms of their development, and what is considered ‘normal’ you can gain a clearer view of why your child behaves as they do.
The first four years of your child’s life are both rewarding and challenging. Throughout these years you will see a huge amount of change and growth in all areas of your child’s development. They will go from being a totally dependent baby to becoming a child with knowledge, skills and an individual. Most of this growth towards independence happens naturally. You can however help your child along their journey by:
l Being supportive, loving and caring.
l Understanding what is happening in your child’s life.
l Being a positive role-model.
l Creating a safe, secure environment for your child to grow and develop in.
l Knowing what to expect from your child at the different stages in their young life.

Child development is often divided into categories as a way to organize and discuss the skills and milestones that occur in each area.
Your child will develop in the following areas:
l Physical Development. This involves all of the physical things your child will do, such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, running, jumping and hopping. It also involves the development of fine motor skills such as picking up objects.
l Social and Emotional Development. This area covers the way your child behaves, their feelings and their ability to interact with others. It is an area where your child will learn about themselves, other people and what behaviour is appropriate.
l Intellectual Development. This is sometimes referred to as cognitive development and is concerned with the way your child develops their thinking skills, how they use their memory, their ability to follow instructions and problem solve. In this area you will see your child make new discoveries, understand new information and be able to do new things.
l Language Development. This is referred to communication skills and is one of the most amazing areas of development. By the time your child is four they will be able to communicate with, and can be understood by most adults. This area involves speaking and listening as well as the ability to be understood by others.
Remember all children are different and develop at their own pace. Some will develop rapidly in one area and more slowly in another.
Some areas of development like the language and physical development are more obvious to the ‘rest of the world’ whereas intellectual and social development may be less obvious. Try to avoid comparing your child to others of the same age as it may make you worry unnecessarily. If you do have a genuine concern, see your doctor.

The First Year
The first year of your child’s life sees rapid growth and development and your expectations and boundaries will be constantly changing. There are certain, simple things you can do to help your child develop in this important first year of their life.

By 12 months old your child will:
l Most probably respond to their own name.
l Chatter away in a stream of babble.
l Understand simple instruction such as ‘no’ ‘look’ and ‘stop’ (but won’t necessarily be able to follow them)
l Move independently by crawling or maybe walking.
l Explore their environment through touching.

Socially in the first year your child will:
l Begin to relate to others in simple ways such as smiling, waving and ‘chatting’.
l Be very dependent on familiar adults.
l Become aware of themselves as separate to others.
l Become more aware and respond to reactions from others – example, if you laugh and smile at something your child does you might find they do it again, and again and again.
l Begin the first step in developing self-care skills by being able to feed themselves finger food and hold a milk bottle or cup.

Some ideas on how to help your child to develop at this stage:
l Put things out of reach that you don’t want your child to have – this will keep your child safe and will limit the number of times you have to say no to your child.
l Have a routine so your child feels secure and settled.
l Have lots of fun and play games so your child gets the positive attention they need.
l Give them lots of love, as this will instill in your child a sense of being safe and secure.
l Get ready for your child to be come more independent from now on.
Once your child is on the move you will need to be particularly conscious of safety. Your child will need to be supervised to avoid accidents. Keep small objects off the floor to avoid your child putting them in their mouth.

By Sunila karan
Counsellor/Personal Development Trainer
Ph: 6727861/9996807 For stress management/counseling & communication training
Contact 6727861/9996807.

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