To improve their English (foreign language) communication skills, it is important for children to have strong social skills which enable them to create new friendships. Schools offering lessons for children in English (foreign language) often include activities where children communicate with their peers and work as a team.
However, not all children are born to be sociable. It is easier for some children to make friends then others. If their children are shy, what can parents do to help them make friends? In this article, we will introduce actions parents can take to improve their child’s social skills.
・Between 1 and 2 years old
Babies learn how to communicate by watching and imitating their parents. At early childhood centers and classes, teachers value the relationship between the parent and child and provide young children with the opportunity to play with and communicate with children their age. This is an effective environment for them to learn social skills and communication skills naturally.
・From 3 years old
During this period, children sometimes want to stay with their mom (like when they were a baby) and sometimes want to be alone with their peers (like when they are in kindergarten). However, some children are more attached to their mothers than others. When these children are in an environment like a park or play area, they often choose to stay close to their mother rather than play with the other children. When they see this, parents often worry that their child cannot make friends. However, this is normal for this age group so there is no need to step in. If you force them to play with the other children when they are not ready, it may have long term negative effects. It is important to not get too worried at this age.
・From 4-5 years old
When children are this age, they start to have good friends but also enjoy playing as a group without determining who is a good friend and who is not. However, some children feel that it is more interesting to play alone and tend to not enter the group. If your child is creative and simply likes to play alone sometimes it is not a problem. However, if they are not confident and don’t have the courage to play with friends, then it is important that parents give advice. It is often enough to let them know that other children want to play with them and encourage them to go over and join the fun. During this stage, many children feel that everyone is their friend they try to get everyone involved in their play.
・From 5-6 years old
During this stage, each child’s role and character within the group often becomes clear. Some children become team leaders and others become followers. Children tend to gather around the leaders and stay away from the followers.
At kindergartens and daycares, it is important for teachers to observe how each child plays if they hear that some children do not want to join the group even if they are invited. If a child is having an adverse reaction to the other children it may be because they are experiencing stress or depression.
When children are avoiding communication in general, it is important to explain to them the importance of communication. Increasing communication at home and showing them how fun playing with others can be is a great way to encourage children to interact with their peers.
Many parents want their children to hang out with children their age and become sociable. However, let’s keep in mind that not being able to make friends is totally different then not trying to make friends. Some children place more importance on spending time alone than others. Children have their own beliefs and feelings. It is important that parents take the time to listen to their children and understand how they think and what they do for fun.