Social skills are one of those things that take some time and practice to develop. Naturally, we as humans tend to be self-centered as a survival mechanism from birth.
Just like any skill, you have to practice and teach so that your preschooler can get the hang of being social.
What are social skills activities for preschoolers?
Social skill activities for preschoolers are a way to learn social skills while having fun. The best way to learn for little ones is through play!
These activities can be done with adults or other children or even leading by example in everyday life.
How do you teach preschoolers social skills?
- Lead By Example: Of course, we should always strive to be kind and loving but sometimes frustration gets the best of us. It always helps me to be on my “best behavior” when I think about my little ones watching me.
- Play Dates: Play dates are great for teaching preschoolers social skills, especially for only children or big siblings. Playdates serve as a controlled environment to let your little engage in play with close supervision.
- Encourage: When you catch your preschooler doing something well or being kind, reward that behavior with verbal praise! “Wow, I saw that you did xyz, that was so kind. Thank you!” This creates a dopamine response with sharing, being kind, etc and it will wire their brain to do that more often!
- Gently Correct: When you see your little being not so kind, take a moment to gently correct them. Ask questions! “How would you feel if they did xyz to you?”
- Play: Imaginative, games with friends, and sensory play are all great ways to help your preschooler develop social skills.
What are some easy activities for social skills?
Learning about emotions
- Positive Daily Affirmations
- Random acts of kindness
- Act out different emotions and have the child identify
Learning about manners
- Use manners often
- Remind them to use their manners with you and others
- Discuss situations where different manners would be appropriate
- Choosing books about emotions
- Write a story together
- Read a story aloud
- Playing dress up
- Playing with dolls/Barbies
- Playing house or something similar
- Coloring and drawing
- Playing tick tack toe
- Playing outside
- Playing tag
Evidence-Based Social Skills Activities
Staring Contest: Helps children learn to make eye contact
Roll the ball: This teaches sharing and cooperation
Virtual Playtime: Get together with friends and family over Facetime or Zoom
Emotion Charades: Write down different emotions on pieces of paper and act them out, then guess what the other person is acting out
Expression Mimicking games: Being able to identify different expressions and how to deal with them is an important skill
Name Game: Go down the alphabet and name things that start with the letter you are on like: A=Apple, B=Ball, C= Cotton
Simon Says: Simon says is a long-time favorite of children and promotes good listening skills
Decision-Making Games: Decision-making is a very important skill to help children learn
Scavenger Hunts: Scavenger hunts teach cooperation, teamwork, compromise, and helpfulness.
Social Skill Activities you will actually enjoy
Make sure to choose activities that as the parent you will actually enjoy. Ensuring that everyone is having a good time is important to keep relationships strong.
- Stories: Take turns creating a verbal storyline
- Grabbing a bite to eat: What better practice than real life? Going out to eat, getting your little one to order their food, and speaking with others is a great activity!
- Playdates: Getting together with friends and letting your little one engage in free play is an easy activity and one you will enjoy!
Games that teach Social Skills
This is a game that helps kids learn about different emotions, how to respond to them and helps with socialization.
This game is designed to help children develop the ability to cope with different emotions and have healthy relationships with others.
Just like any other skill, we must teach social skills by living out what we say and using fun activities to learn.
If your child is struggling socially, that does not make you a bad parent! This struggle gives you the opportunity to step in and bond with them while working on the issue.
What are social skills for preschoolers anyway?
Generosity: As a preschooler, it is hard to overcome the “mine” mentality. It is important to learn how to share and be generous with what they may be using or playing with.
Helpfulness: I have found that little ones naturally want to help or have a job. This is so sweet, and we must foster that drive and help them learn how to be helpful!
Taking Turns: Taking turns is a hard skill to learn, especially for little ones that have not been emersed in a highly social environment.
You can practice taking turns with your little one using a toy. You can say things like “it’s your turn” and then give them the toy, and then ask for the toy back and say “okay, it’s my turn”
Cooperation: Learning how to play well with others and follow directions is very important for social wellness.
Helpfulness: I find that children naturally want to be helpful, however sometimes they do not want to take direction.
Compromising: Compromising is an essential item in the social skills tool box. Knowing how to come to a fair resolution is a great skill to have.
Giving: Giving is a hard one for kiddos because they sometimes think that they won’t ever get anything else. You can reassure them that is not the case and it’s very kind to give.
Sharing: Similar to giving, sharing can be difficult. Kiddos may thing that it may never get their item back. Reassurance goes a long way in these scenarios.
Taking Turns: Taking turns is hard for little ones because they may think it will never be their turn again. Lining out a time that it will be their turn again can help that fear.
Negotiating: Learning how to negotiate is so important for children to learn how to get some of what they want while compromising with another person.
Sympathy: Sympathizing with others is a skill that is probably best learned through examples in real life.
Empathy: The ability to sense other people’s emotions is a big one and it takes time to learn.
Competition: Healthy competition is a good thing, through competition you are taught how to be a good winner and a good loser.
Imitation: When children are learning a new skill, they will often imitate adults or other children, just like babies babbling or talking with their hands.
Protecting: Being protective over someone or something can come naturally, especially to older siblings.
Responsibility: Giving a child a responsibility gives them a sense of pride and purpose.
Respect: I always say respect is earned and not given, this goes for little ones too. If you honor and respect them, they will honor and respect you too.
What are some examples of anti-social behavior?
Selfishness: We are naturally selfish creatures because it is a survival mechanism. Sometimes though this can be taken to an extreme and become damaging to your child’s relationships with those around them.
Telling Lies: Every child is going to lie, that is just a fact. It is important though as parents to correct this behavior in a loving way.
We must express to them that lying can get others in trouble that did nothing wrong, hurt others and that it is always best, to tell the truth. When I know a child is lying, I like to give them the open opportunity, to tell the truth without repercussions.
Children often lie because they are afraid of the consequences. While we want to make sure that there is some level of discipline, we also want to protect the open line of communication we have with our children.
Aggression: Aggression translates to frustration and fear, a lot of times. It is important that we help our children identify what is bothering them and handle the issue in a healthy manner.
Bossiness: Bossiness is a need to be in control at all times. This often happens when a child feels out of control in other areas of their life.
Why is teaching social skills important?
Social skills are important to have from a young age. If taught from a young age, your child’s social ability to cooperate, problem solve, be kind, and be truthful will serve them well in life.
Much of our lives as adults revolve around having good social skills. By teaching your child these skills, you are helping to lay the foundation for their social intellect in the future.
What are some of your favorite social skill activities? I would love to know, so please drop a comment!