Social skills are necessary for making friends. As a parent, you need to make sure that your child has adequate social skills to make friends in day care, school and other social situations. Having friends throughout childhood is important for several reasons, including continued socialization, to maintain confidence and to feel accepted and comfortable in social situations. The social skills that are developed early in life can be maintained and built on to aid in making friends throughout childhood and adolescence.
To make friends, a child needs to have interpersonal skills. In early childhood, this could be in the form of accepting others, showing empathy for playmates and acknowledging common interests or goals. The ability for a child to relate to and get along with others will help her develop healthy friendships and provide a basis for continued social development. A child’s attitude toward other children during playtime or school will affect whether he is approachable by peers or best avoided.
Communication skills that are relevant for young children include being able to interact without aggressive behavior, sharing toys and space without negative reactions and maintaining a healthy dialogue regarding interactions. Karen Stephens, an instructor in child development for the Illinois State University Family and Consumer Sciences Department, notes that sharing, compromise and negotiation skills are essential because they encourage active engagement and mutual satisfaction among playmates. These skills can help young children create and maintain healthy friendships.
For young children, problem-solving skills may be only minimally developed, but some basic skills are called for. Friendships in early childhood are typically characterized by play dates or school-related interactions, so teachers, parents or other caregivers will likely be present for most conflicts. However, a young child should be able to recognize when a playmate is being unfair, bossy or aggressive. In these situations, helpful skills include staying calm, leaving an uncomfortable situation and/or finding an adult to monitor the interaction.
Tips for Development
Parents and teachers are an integral part of developing social skills in young children. To help your young child develop the skills needed to make friends, give your child the opportunity to play with other children of a similar age and let your child read or view books and/or other media related to making friends, according to an article on Scholastic.com by Susan Miller, Ed.D. By implementing these suggestions, you will help your child build friendships and learn to cooperate with playmates.