It’s summer and your children should be out meeting new people and working on their social skills. What can parents do to encourage their children to become more social? Telling them “Go out and make friends” just doesn’t do it.
I recently came across an article entitled Social Skills Activities for Children and Teens: Evidence-based Games and Exercises by Gwen Dewar Ph. D. at the website below which contains 17 social activities for children that all derive from research. Dr. Dewar states that “to develop and grow, kids need first-hand experience with turn-taking, self-regulation, teamwork, and perspective-taking.” She presents many wonderful ideas for activities for your children, from toddlers to teenagers. What I like so much about this article is the amount of research that she references to support the suggested activities.
One of the interesting activities is to help children learn how to read facial expressions better. People who read expressions well have been found to be more helpful towards others. Dr. Dewar provides a separate link to another online article on facial expressions and that article delves more deeply into why having children learn to read facial expressions is important in developing their social skills. There is quite a bit to learn!
Another interesting activity (remember that there are 17 in all!) is to have children read a story with emotional content and then ask the children to talk about it. Dr. Dewar concludes as follows based on the research: “When kids participate in group conversations about emotion, they reflect on their own experiences, and learn about individual differences in the way people react to the world. And that understanding helps kids develop their ‘mind-reading’ abilities.” At the same time, children learn about their emotions and the emotions of others.
I suggest that you read the entire article and then select an activity to do as your and your children’s schedules permit. There is a lot that they can learn and have a fun time as well.
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