Social Skills & Young Children - TeachersAndFamilies

Development of
Social Skills in
Young Children

Guidelines for Parents
From the National Association
of School Psychologists




Fostering the development of social skills is an extremely important activity for teachers and parents of young children. During their early lives, young children will become members of many new groups, including family, neighborhood, school, and community organizations. Each of these groups will require the child to interact in a socially appropriate manner. Friendship-making is fundamental to social skills development for young children. Friends help preschoolers feel needed and competent. They can provide emotional support; they can help solve problems; and they can teach each other new skills.

In order to make and keep friends, preschoolers need the following skills:

· Showing interest in others
· Giving and receiving
· Asserting needs and rights
· Empathy
· Effective communication and problem-solving skills

Most early childhood researchers and educators think that young children who have positive peer relationships have an easier time adjusting to school. These strong, positive early relationships provide the foundation for developing positive peer interactions in grade school. On the other hand, children who have difficulty making friends will likely experience rejection by their classmates and academic problems in school. Without the fundamental skills to play socially and develop friendships with age-mates, children will not have the opportunity to practice more complex skills on which future peer relationships are based. No child is born with these skills. They must be learned!




Parenting Start

This article is based a handout written by Professor Robert Harrington, Professor in the Department of Psychology and Research in Education at the University of Kansas, published by the National Association of School Psychologists in Helping Children at Home and School (Second Edition).
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