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


Promoting Social Competence in Young Children - Simple Methods and Techniques

By Andrew Loh

Your child will start interacting with others, right from the stage of birth. Soon after the birth, your child will interact by using her or his fingers. Tiny babies can easily interact with you and other people. Your baby can easily listen to voices and sounds emanating from different sources. They can express their displeasure by crying; crying is an effective social interaction tool used by tiny babies to let their caregivers know that they need something. When babies grow and become physically strong, they can make eye contact with others and smile at those people who feed them. They will also emanate sweet sounds when someone hold them or play with them.

However, all these social responses are minimal and they are common to all babies in the world, unless there is something wrong with the overall health of babies. These responses will invariably happen whether or not someone tries to induce them into the baby's brain. Social competence or affability is not just about these common responses. It is more about how your children mingle and interact with others that include strangers. As your children develop, they will need to upgrade their social interaction skills in a rapid manner. It means that you will need to teach and train your children about the basics of social competence as they grow and enter their school.

In fact, adults and older children in your home are the base models for younger children for teaching how to behave and interact with other people. It is a very common fact that younger children learn and behave just like older children and adults. Hence, it becomes very important for all parents to develop a culture of social competence among all members of the family.

Your children's social competence skills enhance or increase very rapidly during their preschool years. In other words, preschool years are the basic years of social competence foundation. All children are different with different moods, temperament and social skills. Remember that your children are different too. Some children may face unique challenges and tricky situations, when they interact with their teachers and peers, while others are very bold and socially interactive with an outgoing nature. Whatever the case, you will still need to help your children hone and sharpen their social skills.

Here are some simple yet effective techniques that will assist your children to enhance their social competence skills:

Modeling Children's Intrinsic Behavior

Behavior modeling is possibly the most useful technique that can help your children enhance their social skills. Here, you will slowly, but surely model your children's behavior in such a way that they develop their social competence skills. You will teach them all possible niceties in their mannerism. When you say a simple “thank you” or “please”, you will be encouraging them to repeat those words for others. In fact, you will be telling them indirectly how to act in a diplomatic manner by using these words. Model your children's behavior on the lines of the basic principles of “give and take”, when both of you will be interacting with each other socially.

For example:

  1. Ask your children to help you out in your daily chore. When you invite them this way, they will learn how to work as a team.

  2. If they offer their hand of help, accept it immediately. This simple gesture will make them closer towards you and others in the household.

  3. Observe your children very closely to check what they are doing. If a situation arises, get ready to help them in their work. This will help them work as a team by interacting with you socially.

  4. Praise good behavior and try to correct bad behavior; tell them about the disadvantages of bad behavior.

Share and Give from Heart

Good feelings, good opinions and social courtesies are the foundations stones for better social competence. Make sure that there is enough kindness and generosity among the family members. When every member of the family, develop this culture, then you can see a marked improvement in the social behavior of children.

For example:

  1. Talk to your children how they can be kind and empathetic towards others. Make them understand the power of showing kindness and generosity to others.

  2. Provide them opportunities to show their social skills. If possible, talk to each other and discuss how you can enhance your social competence skills. You can even discuss about how all of you can relate with others who are outside the family.

  3. Children should understand what empathy means and how using it can help them to develop meaningful personal relationship with others. Let children think or imagine what others are feeling or experiencing.

Fairness Towards Others

Bad behavior, bad mouthing, using bad words and teasing are some of the socially unfair activities that can hut others. These incidents can adversely affect how other people think and feel about you. Your children should know how to treat others in a normal yet human way. Same things can happen to your children, when other children treat them in a similar manner. Make sure that your children learn how to speak well about others and how to be good towards others.

For example:

  1. Provide enough examples of incidents when someone felt bad soon after they receive scolding and bad words. Give an example of how a child starts weeping when another child treated him or her in a bad manner.

  2. Explain about the benefits of using good words and expressions and how they can help your children in setting up lasting relationship with other people.

Keywords that your children can use to develop social competency:

  • Please

  • Kindly

  • Will you

  • Would you

  • Could you

  • Can you

  • Help me

  • Do you need help?

  • Could we

Social competence is all about acting and behaving in a pleasing way that helps your children live peacefully with other people. Social competence can help them in a big way, because it is a tool to extract help and assistance from other people. It is also a system that helps assist other people to extract benefits and advantages from your own children. Societies and civilizations were built and developed based on mutual social dependency and civilizations thrived just because of this factor alone.

Featured Resource

Activity-based Approach to Developing Young Children's Social Emotional Competence
By Jane Squires

This book describes how to implement social-emotional (SE) interventions with young children (birth to age 5) in their daily environments. The target audience is professionals who are working with families whose children may be at risk for SE difficulties, such as families living in extreme poverty and those who are experiencing mental health problems or substance abuse.

Another target audience is early interventionists who are working with children who have an identified disability or who have experienced some biological risk (i.e., low birth weight, in utero exposure to drugs or alcohol).


Featured Resource


Child Development

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