As kids develop, they begin to become more socially mature and aware. Through various experiences, young children learn how to interact with their peers, share toys, and coexist peacefully. It’s a wonderful thing when these behaviors start to take shape. But what if your child is not showing interest in playing with others? Luckily, there are a few everyday activities that you can introduce to your children in order to enhance your child’s social skills. These simple activities will not only improve their social competence, but they’re also fun for both you and your child.

10 Tips for Improving Children’s Social Skills

Parents have many tasks to juggle as they try to help their children achieve their potential at home, school, and in the community. While many parents focus their attention on their children’s academic excellence, it is also important that we nurture the development of our kids’ social-emotional skills. After all, the ways in which children interact with others can help determine how well they will perform in school and their future success down the road. Here are a few tips to help your child improve his or her social skills.

1) Introduce your child to other kids in the neighborhood or at school. Children need plenty of opportunities to interact and play with other kids. The more time they spend with their peers, the more comfortable they will become when meeting new people in their community.

2) Sign your child up for youth sports. Being part of a team isn’t about being better than everyone else, but contributing to the group. In addition to boosting one’s confidence and teaching responsibility, team sports also help children develop a strong support system with others who participate in the same activities.

3) Read to your child on a daily basis. Experts recommend reading every day with your kids starting at age three. Reading enhances communication skills and helps children develop an interest in books. It can also help kids become more comfortable speaking in front of others as they learn to read aloud.

4) Encourage your child to have play dates with other children. Rather than focusing on how many friends children have or how popular they are, it’s more beneficial to let them enjoy some quality time to themselves while encouraging them to form connections with one friend at a time. By encouraging these small moments of interaction between peers, you will see how well your child can interact with others.

5) Build self-confidence by setting goals. It’s important to encourage children to achieve their goals, no matter how small or big. Start by sitting down with children and making a list of things that they are passionate about. This will help them learn what is most important to them in life. It can also develop healthy decision-making skills. Aggressive behavior is often seen as “normal” for children who lack confidence, but we need to avoid rewarding negative behavior with attention. By encouraging positive thinking, you will see how quickly your child’s social independence develops.

6) Allow children to explore their surroundings. One of the best ways to help improve children’s social skills is by teaching them how to be comfortable in new situations. Though it may seem difficult at times, it’s important to find opportunities to help kids believe in themselves.  At the same time, we also need to trust that they are capable of overcoming obstacles along the way.

7) Teach kids how to deal with bullies. Unfortunately, bullying occurs among kids from time to time, and it’s important for children to learn how to handle these types of situations. Although you might not always be around during the school day or when your child is playing in your neighborhood, it’s important to teach kids these skills so they are equipped with the tools they need on good days and when things don’t go as planned.

8) Reward children when they follow the rules. For example, when children hand you a toy after asking if they can have a turn, recognize that they listened and followed instructions. You can also ask them how it felt afterward, which helps to reinforce appropriate behaviors. If children are being considerate of others by sharing their toys, acknowledge that you’re proud of them for being polite and thoughtful.

9) Enroll your child in a preschool program. When young children are in a group setting with peers, it enables them to learn how to interact with different types of people, how to share their toys, and how to be considerate of others when playing games. When children attend a preschool program, they get a head-start when it comes to mastering important social skills they’ll need throughout their lives.

10) Teach children how to take turns. It’s important for young kids to observe the process when someone gives up something they have so somebody else can have a chance to use it. Kids need time to develop the skills needed to effectively communicate and share their ideas about what they want to do together next! Model how this works by taking turns talking with a friend or playing a game with another person. Children need to observe how it can be fun to let the other person show you how they play with a toy as well.

There are many activities you can incorporate into your daily routine as you help your child develop age-appropriate social skills. Make sure you devote time to do fun things together, such as playing, talking, and exploring new places! As kids get older, it’s still important for parents to spend quality time with their children. The above tips won’t solve every social problem that kids may encounter, but if you incorporate them into your family’s routine, they can go a long way as your children grow and develop.