Help Your Children Build Their Social Skills

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.  

For more information, please CLICK HERE.

Service Projects for Children This Summer

Among the many interesting things that your children can be doing this summer are service projects in your community.  These projects teach children gratitude, how to care for others, be kind and helpful, and instill a sense of pride in them.   There are various non-profits that are committed to many different issues so whether you partner with one or do your own project as a family will be up to you.  I have included in this week’s blog some ideas for you to consider.

Start off by talking with your children about what projects they would like to participate in.  The last thing you want to happen is have a car full of complaining children because you are “forcing” them to do something they do not want to do.  Do they like dogs and cats?  If so, consider having them volunteer at an animal shelter.  Of course, check with the shelter and other non-profits first before you plan a service project to ensure that they can accommodate children. 

Do they complain about trash at the park? Organize them and their friends to do a clean-up.   Have they accumulated a lot of clothes that they have outgrown?  Help them gather the clothes together and donate them to a women’s shelter.  I have listed at the end of this blog a couple of websites that suggest a number of service projects.

Before, during and after each service project, talk to your children about the importance of what they are doing.  Encourage them to do more. Praise them for their efforts. 

For ideas on service projects and getting your children ready to serve, please read these two online articles:

Getting Your Children Involved with Nature

Summer is the perfect time to get your children outdoors and involved with nature - luring them away from mobile devices, computers, and television screens.  In an excellent online article for The Washington Post, 10 Ways to Get Your Kids Out in Nature, and Why It Matters, author Lauren Knight explains why your children’s physical and psychological well-being will benefit in a myriad of ways by exploring nature.

It all starts with the parents, Ms. Knight writes.  If parents are enthusiastic and curious about nature, their children will be too.   Ms. Knight recommends to just “sit and observe” at a specific area.  Don’t have busy distractions.  I typically encourage in my blogs for parents to ask questions and not simply give children answers.  Help your children look at different aspects of nature, ask questions, and search for the answers themselves. 

Try an outing at a planetarium and then lay out on the open grass and gaze at the stars at night.  By first visiting the planetarium, you will get more information about the constellations and what to look for.  When gazing up at the stars at night, your child will have a better understanding and truly get to enjoy and appreciate such spectacular beauties.

Planting a garden is another way to enjoy nature.  From planting seeds to eating the crops, children can have a lot of fun.  Have your children assist in purchasing all the items you will need for the garden as well as planting and watering.  They will learn much more by doing than just watching.

There are many books that she recommends for children that involve nature.  Visit the website link below and see the list of books.  There are some for young children as well as older children.

Find out what outdoor activities are available in your community.  Summer is an especially good time for children to be outside and enjoying themselves. 

Please read the entire article by CLICKING HERE.

Adding Audiobooks to Your Children’s Library

Adding Audiobooks to Your Children’s Library

I think that many parents overlook audiobooks because they may believe that listening to them is “cheating”.  They believe that the child does not really read such books, but simply listens to the narrator and therefore, gets no real benefit out of them.  In my opinion however, audiobooks can be an excellent addition to your children’s literary arsenal.  Just as I have promoted having a variety of reading materials for your children readily available, such as comic books, I would also include audiobooks.  

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10 Benefits of Children Playing Sports

According to the website www.family.com, there are at least 10 benefits to children for playing sports:

• It’s fun

• Kids have better self esteem, especially girls

• Kids are less likely to use drugs because they realize how destructive drugs can be to their bodies. Girls also are less likely to get pregnant. 

• Good to relieve stress and helps fight depression

• Teaches discipline, especially how to set and achieve goals

• Learn how to handle disappointment as sometimes you will win, but sometimes you will lose

• Academic success is often linked to participation in sports

• Develops teamwork and leadership skills

• Bolsters motor skills and math skills

• Teaches the importance of regular exercise which many will take into adulthood

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt

 

Consider Sports as Great Summer Activities for Your Children

My sons played all kinds of sports year round, especially my oldest son Zac, who is the athlete in the family.   When I was in school, I didn’t play many team sports but I did play a lot of games such as dodge ball and tetherball.  I was also a fast runner, beating my sisters and friends in running sprints.  

Playing sports is often associated with children doing well in school and actually graduating.  I had blogged previously about the NFL’s program “Play 60/Read 20” that encourages children to play and read more.  I can’t say enough about how important this is for children during the summer, in particular.  There are many sports camps available.  Or, sports activities can be planned with relatives and friends.  Again, it requires us as parents to be active in our children’s lives and make plans.

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt

 

An Active Parent Makes All the Difference

As parents, we have learned about the many negative effects that watching too much television can have on our children.  The important question is - what we can do about it?  According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), parents must be actively involved.  The key word is “active”.

Here are some of the ways that the organization recommends for parents to become active by:

•    Viewing programs with your children 
•    Selecting developmentally appropriate shows 
•    Placing limits on the amount of television viewing (per day and per week) 
•    Turning off the TV during family meals and study time 
•    Turning off shows you don't feel are appropriate for your child 

AACAP also recommends that parents select specific shows for their children to watch rather than just allow their children to sit in front of the tv for hours and watch random shows.  
There are many things that we can do as parents.  Let’s make a commitment to be more active this summer to ensure that our children are healthier and happier.

If you would like more information, visit AACAP by clicking here.

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt