Children who engage in these social skills exercises are more likely to develop healthy relationships and have a deeper understanding of the emotions and thoughts of others.
Students confront numerous obstacles in their academic careers in this competitive age (BAW, 2022). How can we support kids in learning social skills, which include the capacity to understand emotions, work with others, form friendships, and resolve disputes? Children learn from our behaviour as role models, and they gain from our efforts to foster situations that value restraint.
However, nothing beats actual practise. Children require hands-on practise with turn-taking, self-regulation, collaboration, and perspective-taking in order to learn and grow. Here are seven age-appropriate social skills exercises for kids that are based on research.
Seven social skills activities for children and teenagers
1. games involving turns
Babies and young children are capable of spontaneous deeds of compassion, although they can be wary of strangers. So how do we impart the concept of a buddy to them?
One effective technique is to have the youngster perform reciprocal, lighthearted acts of kindness with the stranger. For instance, the youngster can roll a ball back and forth or alternately push a toy’s button. It’s possible for the youngster and the stranger to exchange intriguing objects.
The youngsters appeared to flick a switch when psychologists Rodolfo Cortes Barragan and Carol Dweck (2014) tested this straightforward strategy on 1- and 2-year-olds.
The infants started to see their new playmates as persons they could assist and share with. However, if kids simply played with the stranger, without showing any reciprocity, there was no such impact.
2. The “name game” for kids
Early childhood expert Kathleen Cochran has observed that many kids need assistance with the basic skills of attracting someone’s attention. They still don’t realize how crucial it is to use the person’s name.
It’s a small thing, but Cochran observes that it marks the beginning of understanding another person’s viewpoint. How then do we impart this knowledge? This straightforward social game is suggested by Cochran and her colleagues (Teachers’ College, Columbia University 1999):
Give one of the kids a ball and place them in a circle.
Ask this youngster to point to another participant in the circle and say that person’s name. The little youngster then rolls the ball to the designated person.
Following receipt of the ball, the subsequent youngster repeats the process by designating a recipient and passing the ball on.
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3. Young children’s rhythm and music-making games
Preschoolers at a table with a teacher and instruments including triangles, maracas, and tambourines
Children have a natural tendency to want to help others. How can we support this inclination? According to research, group singing and music-making are excellent social skills exercises for promoting supportive, cooperative behaviour.
For instance, think about this game.
When The Frogs Wake Up
First, you gather a group of unfamiliar toddlers and have them focus on a “pond” made up of a blue blanket spread out on the floor with many “lily pads” on it. On the lily pads are toy frogs.
The kids are then informed that the frogs are sleeping. We must assist the frogs in waking up this morning. So, you give the kids some basic musical instruments, like maracas, and ask them to sing a quick wake-up song while they round the pond in rhythm to the music.
Following the game with 4-year-olds, the researchers evaluated the kids’ natural desire to assist other kids. Children who “awakened the frogs” through a non-musical version of the activity were less inclined to assist a friend who was having difficulty (Kirschner and Tomasello 2010).
4. games for young children that encourage focus and restraint
Children must learn to focus, pay attention, and control their impulses if they are to get along with others. We can assist children in developing this kind of self-control throughout the crucial preschool years. Playing age-old games like “Simon Says” and “Red light, Green light” helps kids develop their ability to control their own behaviour and obey rules.
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5. Imaginative, theatrical group games
Kids need to be able to control their emotions when something upsetting occurs if they want to get along with others. They must learn to maintain their composure. And playing dramatic pretend with others is a promising approach for kids to enhance these abilities.
To test this strategy, engage young children in cooperative pretend play activities such
claiming to be a group of non-human creatures, putting on chef attire and faking that you are baking a cake, or alternately pretending to be sculptures (and having peers pose the statues in various ways).
Thalia Goldstein and Matthew Lerner discovered evidence that these social skills activities aided kids in developing stronger emotional self-regulation in a randomised experiment with preschoolers from economically disadvantaged households (Goldstein and Lerner 2018). After eight weeks of teacher-led play, children who participated in dramatic, pretend play in groups fared better than those who participated in other social skills exercises, such as building with blocks.
6. Young children’s “emotion charades”
In this game, one player portrays a specific mood, and the other participants must figure out what emotion they are seeing. In essence, it’s a very young person’s version of charades.
Is it beneficial? It’s a technique to encourage young kids to consider and talk about emotions, at the very least. Additionally, the game was incorporated into a preschool curriculum created by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (along with a number of other social skills exercises).
The “Kindness Curriculum” was connected to positive results in a short experimental study: Graduates of the program showed better improvements in teacher-rated social competence than children in a control group (Flook et al 2015).
7. Exercises that teach children to read facial emotions
Facial expression reading experts are better at predicting what others will do. Additionally, they are more “prosocial,” or kind to others. According to experiments, children can get more adept at interpreting people’s faces with practice.
Cortes Barragan R and Dweck CS. 2014. Rethinking natural altruism: simple reciprocal interactions trigger children’s benevolence. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.111(48):17071-4.
Teacher’s College, Columbia University. 1999. Conflict resolution for preschoolers. TC Media Center website. Accessed on 9/28/2015 at http://www.tc.columbia.edu/news.htm?articleID=4023.
Kirschner S and Tomasello M. 2010. Joint music making promotes prosocial behavior in 4-year-old children. Evolution and Human Behavior 31(5): 354-364.
Goldstein TR and Lerner MD. 2018. Dramatic pretend play games uniquely improve emotional control in young children. Dev Sci. 21(4):e12603.
Flook L., Goldberg S.B., Pinger L., and Davidson R.J. 2015. Promoting prosocial behavior and self-regulatory skills in preschool children through a mindfulness-based Kindness Curriculum. Dev Psychol. 51(1):44-51.
BAW (2022). How Academic Help Providers Save the Students’ Future?. https://bestassignmentwriter.co.uk/blog/how-academic-help-providers-save-the-students-future/