Social Skills

Effectively Teaching Social Skills

Can’t teaching social skills to toddlers be easier said than done sometimes?! Then again, we actually teach the children around us how to behave just by living, especially by how we treat them.

Teaching social skills is a long journey which actually continues through the teen years. Like all other areas of development, of course young children are going to make lots of mistakes when interacting with others (especially with peers who have the same limited developmental capabilities).

Underrated Developmental Hurdles

Young children can’t see another person’s perspective. So the fact that hitting/biting someone hurts that person is truly difficult for a little one to understand. This can also explain why toddlers only care about what they want. I remind myself that this point of view is NOT ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’, it is simply part of being young.

Babies and toddlers seem to only live in the present (at least most of the time). It’s helpful to remember that time is also very abstract and hard for toddlers to learn. It seems that the words ‘soon’, ‘later’ or ‘when they’ve finished’ can seem be understood as ‘never’, considering their mighty protests. However, simple explanations of the process will help to teach the basic concept of time as well as teaching social skills.

We abide by so many social rules that it’s no wonder young children can find it hard to follow them all, every time they’re required. A toddler’s quest for independence could feel threatened by the many restrictions they have.

Knowledge and understanding of what’s required is often acquired before self control has developed enough to retain from the many impulses children have.

We often act like we believe toddlers have mature emotional and social abilities, full self control and complete knowledge of the complex concept of what is socially acceptable and that they simply choose to be ‘bad’ or ‘naughty’.

Think about it for a minute.

We don’t punish a toddler for being unable to do high level sums or juggle, yet many toddlers are shouted at, smacked or banished to time-out, after the toy they ‘stole’ has been forced from them, because they failed to control their urge to hit the child who was ‘in their way’ of what they wanted.

Remember that young children are only able to relate to their perspective and they have little (if any) control over their strong impluses. It’s possible that a baby or toddler doesn’t understand what ‘share’ means. Even when they understand, it can still be really hard to wait!

Young children can’t reason like we can. It’s hard or impossible for toddlers to realise that the punishments we give them are because of their actions. All they know is we are making them suffer. I used to do this because that’s all I knew.

Now I’m part of a growing trend that understands that discipline means teaching social skills. Many parents and educators are proving that punishment is not needed because it simply teaches children to be mean and not get ‘caught’. Fear lowers anyone’s ability to learn.

We think we have a hard time teaching social skills, lets remember that it’s even more challenging to learn it all, with such big hurdles to overcome!

Changing Our Perspective

Young children need to be repeatedly taught how to act civilly and be given the patience needed to really understand such a variable description as ‘being good’.

I feel that compassion can really help them cope with the responsibility of learning all the social skills needed with an incomplete emotional development. Validating what a tot might be feeling, helps them to understand their internal process, feel understood and loved whatever emotions they feel.

Teaching social skills example: “I know you feel sad that you can’t have the toy you really want. It can be frustrating to wait for someone else to finish playing with something that you want now. It might feel quicker if you played with an available toy while you wait for your turn with that toy.”

More Articles on Teaching Social Skills

Toddler Sharing Games
We often remind toddlers to share yet I often wonder if tots actually understand what we are asking them to do. We can get frustrated that they are not ‘playing nicely’ with other children and tots can become very distressed about having to share and take turns. Repeating these simple yet effective toddler sharing games often helps to teach social skills.

Supporting Emotional Development
A toddler’s emotions can overwhelm to us sometimes, just think how confusing and challenging it is for a little one with an incomplete emotional development! Teaching emotional intelligence is a crucial task for parents, carers and teachers especially those with young children. Find out effective and playful ways of teaching social skills and emotional intelligence.

Understanding Toddler Behaviour
Can’t toddler behaviour challenge us as parents and carers on a daily basis?! However, if we understand why something is happening the way it is we can start teaching social skills from a different perspective that can achieve more harmony all round. I think it’s handy to think about the reasons behind toddler behaviour that bug us. Let this article guide you to see behind the scenes of your parent-toddler interactions.

How to Cope with Toddler Behavior
Does your toddler’s behaviour push your buttons? Do you find yourself sounding just like your own parents even when you don’t want to? This page will help you become the parent you wish you really were. (You know, like the person your dog thinks you are?) Yes, really it will, and I’m not kidding. 🙂 Toddler parenting will become so much easier and fun too.

Handling Temper Tantrums Respectfully
Don’t you think this is the hardest part of caring for a toddler?! A crying/raging toddler is simply having a hard time and dealing with it the best they can. I’ve found they need emotional support rather than punishment. My aim is to actively help toddlers heal from the upset/anger, not stop before they’ve finished processing their emotions. Intrigued by my view on toddler tantrums?

Encouraging Toddler Cooperation
Are there times when you feel like screaming because your toddler has their own agenda that’s the opposite of your plan for the day? Join the club! Throughout the years I’ve worked with many childcare professionals, parents and grandparents. I’ve observed loads of different ways of making requests to many toddlers for a wide range of reasons and situations. I’ve also personally experimented with various methods to find the most effective and respectful ones.

Handling Toddler Biting Compassionately
Toddler biting is quite a common problem. I’ve dealt with many instances of toddlers biting while working in nurseries (daycare) and as a nanny. I am fascinated by toddlers, so I’ve studied and experimented how we can enable them to reach their full potential. With biting, I like to ask myself what need is being communicated and why?

An Amazing Calming Action Poem
These easy actions are emotional freedom techniques (EFT aka tapping). This can help your child cope with the little bumps in life – both physical and emotional! I (and many others) have have many successes using these wonderful techniques on children as well as oursevles.

Toddler Safety and Independence: A Balancing Act
We teach social skills while we keep toddlers safe. While out in public with a toddler or a few, giving them the independence many of them crave can often clash with toddler safety. I’ve cared for many toddlers that have a real urge for freedom and don’t like to be confined. Here’s some toddler parenting ideas that have worked for us in keeping them safe in public places while respecting their choices.

I hope you found these toddler parenting ideas on teaching social skills inspiring.


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