Social Skills 101, for Kids Some Children Need Help with Friends

By Linda Lewis Griffith Scripps Howard News Service | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 22, 1997 | Go to article overview

Social Skills 101, for Kids Some Children Need Help with Friends


Linda Lewis Griffith Scripps Howard News Service, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


LYNETTE is worried. "My 9-year-old daughter doesn't have any friends," she complains. "She sits by herself during lunch and recess, and tells me nobody wants to play with her after school."

Social skills are as important to children's success and happiness as are the mastery of language and mathematical abilities.

Socially adept youngsters possess higher self-esteem, experience greater satisfaction in school and are involved in fewer playground and cafeteria altercations than their less proficient classmates. But just as boys and girls differ in their academic prowess, so do they vary in their abilities to get along with others. Some youngsters naturally blend with fellow students, while others continually fail to fit in. Such difficulties often confound parents. While most folks are comfortable helping their youngsters learn the three Rs, they may be stymied when it comes to teaching children how to make friends. To make matters worse, many socially unskilled boys and girls have parents who also struggled to make friends. Watching offspring experience continual rejection can trigger painful memories in these moms and dads and elicit strong desires to shelter their children from further suffering. But such tactics seldom prove useful. Rather than helping students interact more successfully with their peers, parental overprotection makes children feel incompetent, prevents them from developing interpersonal skills and further isolates them from their classmates. Fortunately, there are steps moms and dads can take to help their youngsters make friends. These strategies work best when parents remain calm and avoid making the issue too intense. Like relationships, social skills evolve slowly, in their own manner and in their own time. Arrange for friends to come to your house. …

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