Social Skills in School, the Hardest Subject

“That’s mine!”

“You like him better than me.”

“I won’t be your friend!”

Social skills are the personal skills needed for successful social communication and interaction.

In day-to-day activities these represent the degrees to which children are able to establish and maintain friendships, work and play with others, and terminate negative relationships. As children develop and mature they become more experienced and demonstrate higher level of these skills.

Without the friendship of peers, children feel alone, confused, and out of sync with the rest of the world. And these feelings can have serious repercussions for their future. Research has found that rejection by peers is devastating to children and can lead to such long-term problems as low self-esteem, poor academic performance, depression, failed relationships, poor parenting skills, and troubled careers.

Being able to make and keep friends clearly plays a vital role in a child’s emotional health and well-being .That’s why we developed the Stepping Stones Group Therapy program. For nearly 20 years, Northern Virginia Stepping Stones has been helping children of all ages “raise their social IQ.”

Here are some basics to consider when thinking of social skills for your elementary school age child.

How can social skills lessons help children in the Elementary school classroom?

Research show that although academic skills are important, social and behavioral skills are often seen as the crucial determinants of children’s success in school. The quality of children’s relationships with both peers and adults are important predictors of their success in school. By first grade children are expected to play and work collaboratively with their peers. To do so children need to demonstrate pro-social behaviors, positive attitude, understand the perspective of others, negotiate, and make compromises.

By first grade children frequently work in groups. Therefore skills such as: taking other’s perspective, compromising, negotiating, are important skills to have. During recess children play with minimal adult supervision. Being a good problem solver increases the likelihood of getting along with peers while achieving your goals.

What are some activities parents can play with their children in order to help them with their social skills lessons?

“How to play” is essentially more important than “what to play”. Spend time playing with your child. Follow your child’s lead. Make sure that both of you are having fun. Talking with your children is as important as playing with them. Tell them about your day, ask them about theirs. Tell them about problems you had and how you solved them (you may need to present it in a simple way, and help them to see how it may relate to their friendships). Remember to show interest and empathy as well as offer ideas for them to do next time.

From where and from whom do children learn social behavior? Who are the most influential figures in their development?

From a developmental point of view, children spend most of the time with their caregivers (i.e., parents, nannies and teachers). These are the most influential figures at early stages of life. Children learn communication and socialization first within their core family unit. As children grow, they become exposed to other influences such as peers (school, neighborhood), teachers, and TV characters. It is important to remember that Children learn social skills through experience as well as from observing others.

Here may be some of the warning signs for children who have a delay in their social skills development.

  • Preference playing with much younger peers or adults, rather than with their own age group.
  • Playing alone most of the time, despite presence of other children.
  • Anger and increased frustration during social interactions.

If you have any concerns about your child’s social skills IQ or would like more information please don’t hesitate to contact us at In Step. We have a variety of services and testing options to support you and your child.