Most parents want their children to have good social skills. Without them, your child will not be able to make friends and so will not have a happy life at school or anywhere else. It’s up to parents to help their child develop in this way – and toys and games can be good tools to use.
Even though physical and mental achievement such as is seen in sports and academic success is often thought to bring happiness, it’s our relationships with others that are the most vital. If a child cannot get along with their peers they’ll not be truly happy no matter how gifted they are in other areas.
Parents can help their child develop social skills in various ways. Having certain standards of behavior in the home is one way and while these may differ in different cultures and families they tend to belong to three main categories.
- Respecting oneself
- Having respect for other people
- Respecting other people’s property
Most parents understand that teaching such principles takes time and effort and that they must be reinforced to children in many different ways to make them clear.
Not everyone realizes that toys and games can also help children learn social skills. Of course, some are better than others for this purpose, but using them will reinforce lessons in a pleasant and acceptable way. So which are best for this purpose? Here is a guide to help you choose.
To play most board games you need more than one person. So when children play these games it gives them plenty of opportunity to interact with others such as friends and family members. Naturally, each child wants to win, but only one can. Playing such games will help children learn how to handle the disappointment of losing. They will learn to wait their turn for a go and to play without cheating.
Let’s Pretend Toys
There are many toys on offer these days that help children play pretend games. Medical kits, play kitchens, dolls and dolls houses, cars and trains will all encourage wonderful games of let’s pretend. Such games can be played alone, but often kids love to pretend with a friend to make it more fun. So they learn to share toys, but more importantly they learn how to talk to the others about their ideas for the game.
Verbal skills are enhanced along with co-operation if they are to play the game properly. Both boys and girls enjoy pretend games.
Basic Building Blocks
Most parents consider building blocks to be ideal for developing their kids’ motor skills, but social skills can also be developed by playing with blocks. And even though children who play with blocks are quite young, they are not too young to learn social skills. Besides, which, even older children enjoy helping their younger siblings create a block tower or road.
Here’s how playing with blocks can help develop social skills.
- You can encourage your child to share the blocks with other people
- You can get them talking about what they would best like to build – or have already built.
- Two or more children or people can work on building one thing
- Parents can point out that the building progressed faster and it was more fun with another child to help
The result is that even small children learn about the advantages of teamwork and sharing. Naturally they will not be able to verbalize these lessons, but they learn them, nevertheless.
Very few sports type games can be played alone; most need one or more people for successful play. A soccer ball may be kicked around by a lone player, but how much more fun it is with a second or third child to help kick. Tennis needs two players, cricket sets for kids need two or more. When children have access to sporting toys they learn to socialize, share and play fair – all while having the best fun.
Children that learn good social skills while they are young have developed skills that will make them popular and happy not only now, but when they grow up and must face the world on their own.
The wise parent will provide toys and games to help develop this skill in a way that is indirect, but still extremely effective.
In fact, learning through playing games is usually the best way of all to learn anything. The child has had fun and wants to repeat the process. Learning in a way that is not fun is often painful for both parent and child.