Helping Kids Play


Social skill development has its origins in the social interactions of family life. Like most skills, the forces of practice, modeling, coaching, reinforcement, consequences, making mistakes and problem solving, are involved in improving one’s performance. How then as parents, can we provide our children with the opportunity to model and practice the skills needed for social success? The first and most powerful teaching mechanism is our own behavior. How we play with our children, talk to each other, manage our emotions, solve social problems, talk about friends and families, tell stories about our own social experiences, manage sibling relationships, and involve our children in their own social events, all lay the groundwork for later success. In an earlier article I described the importance of letting children solve their own problems and learn from the natural rewards and consequences that occur. Over-involvement or overprotection from the expected bumps and bruises of “growing up” can actually inhibit the development of the social knowledge we need to function appropriately in group situations. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect our children from abusive or unhealthy relationships; only that we analyze situations carefully, honestly, and to the best of our objective ability before we jump in. Letting children work out their own problems leads to learned lessons that will last a lifetime.

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.