Making friends is one of the best parts of being a kid. We innately know that friendship is a part of growing up, but did you know that there are actual, tangible benefits for promoting social development in your kids?
Social interaction affects a child’s self-esteem and attitude. Social development is key from when a child is a toddler until their time in high school and beyond. It is key in learning how to speak, but it is also essential in dealing with peer pressure that only grows as they work their way through school.
Building social skills helps your child create friendships and bonds. These bonds not only serve to reinforce their ability to resist peer pressure, but they are important in a multitude of other aspects of life as well. They reinforce confidence and self-worth in your child. They help your child go through life experiences and learn through doing, rather than just listening.
As a parent, social development for your child begins with you. There are a handful of things that you can build into your daily routine with your child that will encourage their own social development:
- Ask them every day how school was and how their friends are.
- Let your child talk through their conflicts with you and encourage them to come up with their own solutions.
- Reinforce a sense of empathy in your child so they understand how others might feel.
- Be an emotional role model. Show your child how they should interact with new people they meet, how they should behave. Be sure to show them how to properly act, even when others are not around.
The impact of making friends is long-lasting, too. A strong social upbringing has been found, in the American Journal of Public Health in 2015, that having higher social skills while growing up led to increased success by the time your child turns 25.
Specifically, children who are more socially developed are more likely to attend and graduate college, more likely to be employed, and provide more favourable life outcomes in general, including avoiding trouble with the police.
As with most parts of their lives, the way that you raise and influence your child is the most important part of their social development. The friends that they make, the paths they walk, and the emotional bonds that they create will all be learned primarily from their parents as they grow up.
It is never too late to assist your child with their social development, either. No matter what their age, encourage your children to play some sports, join some extra-curriculars, volunteer, or just get out and play. Every social interaction, no matter how small, still has an impact on your child’s social development.