I’m sure you’ve all been there… that moment when you wish the ground would just open up and swallow you.. CAN YOU BELIEVE YOUR LITTLE ONE JUST DID/SAID THAT ?!?
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there! But, is there anything we can do to help our little monsters behave in a more socially acceptable way? Of course there is! I’ve spent some time looking at all the suggested ideas and tips online, and I’ve compiled a list of my 5 favorites for you to try at home.
1. Family Dinner Time
Such a simple idea, yet so effective! By sitting down together as a family and interacting in a caring and relaxed manner, we show the younger members of our families the joy of being around other people. Try to get everyone equally involved in the conversation, asking questions about each other’s day or finding out what another person has planned for later. Even young children will benefit from feeling part of something bigger than themselves, and will pick up social skills like ‘eye-contact’ and ‘not interrupting’ by watching the rest of the family interact.
2. Staring Competition
Staring competitions are another great way for your child to get comfortable with the idea of ‘eye-contact’. Eye-contact is an extremely important social skill, and one which we use more and more as we get older. Having good eye-contact can put other people at ease, and also help us present a more confident image.
3. Emotion charades
We all know how important it is to be able to correctly read another person’s facial expressions. By playing this version of charades with your little ones every now and then, we can help them become familiar with some of the basic facial expressions and their connected emotions.
Step 1. Write down feeling words on pieces of paper –for younger children use simpler ones such as happy, sad or angry and for older children use more advanced emotions such as frustrated, resigned or proud.
Step 2.Take turns picking a slip of paper and then acting out the word written on it. With younger children you could substitute written words for pictures showing the emotion. If kids prefer, you can draw the emotion rather than act it out like in the game Pictionary.
4. Word association game
This game helps young children with the concept of staying on topic. While it’s not nice to admit, some people might get annoyed if your child keeps on trying to change the topic of conversation, and once they are in school this is a skill that will really benefit your little one. This game can be played in one of a few different ways, but let’s look at two quick varieties.
1. Creating groups – You start by naming three items, let’s say ‘apple’, ‘strawberry’, ‘pear’. Now ask your little one to add something to the group. The aim of this game would be for your child to name a few more fruits.
2. Alphabet listing – This works better with older children. Use the letters of the alphabet to create a list of themed things, following an A, B, C approach. For this version you may need to be a little more relaxed with the terms of the game, or example, listing fruits and vegetables instead of only fruit. ie. Apple, banana, cucumber, dragonfruit, eggplant etc
5. Do a clear-out
This is an activity that is very close to my own heart, and one that I make a point of doing at least twice a year. Explain to your child that you are going to be sorting through some things together, looking for items of clothing that no longer fit or toys that they no longer play with, and giving them to charity. Involving your child in this kind of activity will help teach them the valuable skill of sharing, and will also help them to appreciate the things that they do have. With our older daughter we even have her drive with to the charity bank to drop off the donation, and explain to her that there are many people in the world that do not have the same blessings that we do. By helping your child understand the concept of sharing you are helping to create a well-rounded person that will go on to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.
Well, these are only a few ideas, and it is important to keep in mind that young children naturally have difficulty with some of these skills… the main thing is that we lead by example, showing our kids what is okay and what is not.
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