Dayne Davey

How can you help your child learn how to play well with others? Social competence not only involves the ability to cooperate with peers; it also includes such things as the ability to show empathy, express feelings, and share generously. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to help your kids develop these all-important social and emotional skills.

Modelling appropriate behaviours is essential. Observation plays a vital role in how young children learn new things. If your child sees you sharing, expressing gratitude, being helpful, and sharing feelings, your child will have a good solid understanding of how to interact with other people outside the home. You can model these responses in your own household with both your child and other members of the family. Every time you say “please” or “thank you,” you are demonstrating how you would like your children to behave.

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Most importantly, be sure to offer praise when your children demonstrate good social behaviours. Reinforcement not only makes young children feel good about themselves, it helps them understand why certain behaviours are desirable and worthy of praise. Helping your children feel good about themselves also plays an important role in developing a sense of empathy and emotional competence. By creating a positive climate where children are allowed to share their feelings, children will naturally begin to become more generous and thoughtful.

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