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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Promoting Social Competence in Young Children

By Andrew Loh

Childhood is very precious! Childhood is the time, when your child will take his or her first step towards making an affable personality. Childhood is also a stage, when your child will start to build a socially suitable personality that is liked by one and all. Childhood is also a precious time for your children to know and learn about the world and its mysteries. In fact, knowing more about the society and its people is one of the most critical skills for a child. Learning how to get along well with other children family members and others is a necessary social skill that your child must master in order to become a good person.

Obviously, parents are the first people, who play an extremely important role in helping your children design and create satisfactory relationship with other people, and later become socially competent persons. Social competence will make children to become more pleasing, better mannered, cooperative and generous with other people. Social competence will also enable your children to express their feelings in a normal and effective way and learn how to empathize with other people.

What is Social Competence?

It is a person's inbuilt and innate ability to get well along with others. It is a social behavior as well. Social competence is an index of your children's capability to design, create, set up and develop personal rapport and relationship with people around. In life, your children's social competence can correlate with a number of parameters that are more psychological in nature. One of the most important parameters is the way in which your children communicate with others. Social competence may also change or alter in relation with the other members of the family, class mates, teachers and other people who come in contact on a daily basis.

Why Social Competence is Critical for your Children?

Childhood development is all about brain development and a child's ability to live in a cordial manner with others. Most of the developmental milestones in a child relate to these two aspects. Apart from brain and physical development, social adaptation is possibly the most significant indicator of how well your child gets along with others. In fact, it is also a very good and valid predictor of adult adaptation (according to Hartup, who is a well known social scientist). Children who are generally harsh, aggressive, and angry and disliked by others may show problems in their future life; in fact, such children may find it very hard to find a place along with their peers. Long range future problems for such children may include very poor mental development, inferior or disappointing classroom performances and quite poor professional achievements.

On the other hand, a child is more socially affable and competent may display a number of positive traits and characters. Such a child will have superior mental health, very strong and cordial social relationship with people and a tendency to exhibit better classroom performances. Children who are adept at playing, talking, conversing and working out relationship with other people could have a very satisfactory and mutually beneficial life with other people.

Developing social competence among your children is a challenging task, as children are different in their behavior and temperament. One child may be more efficient in sewing up mutually beneficial relationship with others, while other may be very poor in communicating with friends and teachers. Hence, parents should note down that quality is more important than quantity; when it comes to social competence, you may need to consider the quality of relationship your children develop with other people. At times, some children may be very shy, inward looking, introvert and inhibited, when compared to others. It may be very difficult to push such children to learn social competence. Adults in the house may wish to treat such children with care, so that they can slowly push and guide them to mingle with other people.

How Can you Evaluate and Monitor your Children's Social Competence?

Prescribing a precise social behavior is quite difficult and there is no single method that can help you treat social incompetence in your children. After all, your children are human beings and they are just like any other people with their own mind and intellect. To correct an improper social behavior of child is a difficult task and you may wish to observe your children more closely to find out all possible weaknesses and pitfalls.

The most important point to remember here is to:

  • Observe

  • Understand

  • Monitor and

  • Support children, who are still learning their social skills.

Learning social competence skills is a matter of personality and not all children are equal with their learning and mastering skills. Social growth is an indicator of how well your children can become social animals with superior communication and cooperating techniques and attitudes. You may wish to consult the following checklist to know and identify whether your children are socially competent or not.

Individual Characters

Your child:

  • Is always positive and forward looking

  • Can adjust or cope with any type of situation

  • Can easily manage frustrations and disappointments of everyday life

  • Can easily set up relationship with other people

  • Can show or display an interest in others

  • Can display a positive attitude or sympathy and empathy

  • Can appreciate humorous situations

  • Will not feel bored or lonely

Social Skills Characters

Your child:

  • Can easily set up non verbal communication with others like smiling, nodding, laughing or waving

  • Look for positive and encouraging response from others

  • Can easily express desire and wishes to mingle with other people

  • Handle and manage any type of people including distracters and bullies

  • Can become an effective member of a team or a group

  • Develop a meaningful relationship with one or two peers

If you feel that your children exhibit more than half of the above mentioned characters, then it means that they are learning social competence skills in a normal manner. If you feel that your children are exhibiting less than half of the above mentioned characters, then you may need to find a way to teach your children the basics of social competence skills. Continue to read Promoting Social Competence in Young Children - Simple Methods and Techniques.


Child Development

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