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Social Skills Activities for Preschool & Kinder

Proper social skills are the foundation for healthy relationships. Social skills foster the ability to be a friend, participate in activities, communicating positively, resolve conflicts and earn self-respect. Basic social skills include maintaining eye contact, sharing, controlling emotions, understanding action and consequence, identifying body language, and responding properly to initiated contact. As a parent, you know your child possesses many wonderful qualities, so it can be extremely frustrating to watch him or her fail in social situations. Building social skills starts early, and for many children is simply a natural part of growing up.Children with Autism-spectrum disorders often don't lack the desire to make friends; instead, they lack the resources to succeed at this task. Unfortunately, a lack of basic social skills tends to be a driving force for social anxiety, social avoidance, and depression. Teens and adults with poor social skills are likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and unfortunately fall into a pattern of isolation that's difficult to tackle once it develops. Teaching social skills should begin simply and early. You can provide opportunities for your child to practice patience, listening, communication, conflict-resolution and good manners every day.

Assess
It's important to be able to identify and assess your child's abilities before setting your expectations. All children learn differently, and we recommend focusing on your child’s strengths over his or her weaknesses. Like most anything in life, social skills are learned and not inherent. That means, if your child isn't meeting your expectations, it's time to change your approach.

You don't need a master's degree in education to provide your child with the tools he or she will need to learn proper social skills. However, the younger your child is, the easier it will be to incorporate daily lessons into your routine. We recommend you apply what you know about positive and proactive child care early and consistently, and to continue teaching life skills to school-age and beyond. In the process, you will help your child form powerful habits that will give him or her a critical advantage in life.

Reward
Positive reinforcement and reward are the cornerstones of learning. As a parent, you should be able to identify your child's motivation, whether that's verbal praise or something more tangible, such as a gold star on the wall or a raffle ticket for a prize.
Identifying specific behaviors and skills will allow you to maintain focus and follow through on your approach. Take time to re-analyze your child's progress to ensure your teaching tactics remain relevant.
Each step toward success should be considered a success in and of itself; reward all efforts, even if they result in failure. Failure is an important part of learning and should never be discouraged.

Games & Activities
Emotions
A major component to building proper social skills is the ability to recognize and control emotions, subtle non-verbal cues and facial expressions. Start by helping your child identify his own emotions (I'm angry he took my toy) and comparing the feeling to the corresponding face. All About Faces includes 52 cards with faces representing thirteen different feelings, including fear, disappointment, neutral and happiness.

Eeboo's About Face game helps children identify and express everyday emotions by building their own faces from scratch. This game uses cards printed with common household objects representing hair, eyes, nose and mouth, giving it the added bonus of fostering your childs imagination.

By teaching your kids about emotions, they'll be able to better understand themselves and the world around them. Start early and stay consistent by calling attention to emotional cues and talking about the feelings of self and others in everyday conversation. Recognizing emotions is a crucial part of empathy and sympathy. By being able to look beyond themselves, children who understand emotion are able to recognize the needs of others.

Sharing & Thinking
Play is an important part of learning a number of skills, and social skills are no different. This powerful catalyst for development doesn't require an extensive library of tools. By free playing with family, friends or schoolmates, your child is learning how to solve problems, share, negotiate and think ahead.
Outside activities on the playground provide the perfect arena for learning social skills. Encourage your child to partake in games by setting up activities such as this fun River Stones game, designed to challenge the imagination and build confidence.

Self-Trust & Confidence
As a parent, your goal is to make your child's life more comfortable and easy. But sometimes this helpful, nurturing side can hinder more than assist. This is particularly true of parents with special needs children, who tend to be more inclined to shelter their little ones from failing. But failing is an absolutely crucial part in learning, and it's important you give your child the opportunity to establish a problem-solving process.
Rather than allowing your child to say "I can't", encourage him or her to ask you for help instead. One of the biggest gifts you can give your child is the confidence to tackle problems. You'll do this by inviting him or her to take part in the problem-solving process and never discouraging or punishing failure.

By allowing your child the freedom of choice and giving him opportunities to help with simple tasks such as setting the table or putting away groceries, you are setting a foundation for social success. Remember to provide praise for a job well done, no matter how small the assignment.

Empathy
Create a Scene games give your child an opportunity to exercise the imagination without limits. Play this game together to encourage communication, practice sharing and foster an understanding of actions and their consequences. Talk with your child about what people are doing in the scene and why, where they are going now and later and how they should interact with each other. Because a story line needs to develop, pretend play is also a great way to develop impulse control and empathy skills. With your help to guide them, imaginative play helps kids understand a variety of important concepts needed for daily interactions.

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