Social skills are important at every age; however, the social skills required by children are different from those necessary for adults. Introducing these skills to our tweens and teens will provide them with the opportunity to practice and refine them before they are grown-ups.

The benefits of social skills preparation are numerous. Adults with strong social skills have an easier time at work, at home, and in other social settings. Some people develop excellent social skills at a young age, while others require more time and effort to communicate effectively. For these youngsters, loving parental guidance now might provide them with the assistance they need to make a smooth transition later.

Social skills are applicable to many facets of life. Those with excellent social skills are in a better position to deal with life effectively.


Developing these six essential social skills in your children, and yourself, will enable you, and them, to grow in social competence and confidence!




A lack of eye-contact can be interpreted as disinterest, shyness, a lack of confidence, or as odd behavior. A certain amount of eye-contact is necessary if we want to be taken seriously. How much eye-contact is appropriate depends on the situation. It might seem awkward at first, but it’s worth the effort. Practice with family members and close friends until you/they are comfortable enough to experiment publicly.

  • While speaking, maintain eye-contact for about five seconds, then look away for a couple of seconds.
  • While listening, give more eye-contact. Consider looking at one eye for a few seconds, then the other eye, and then the mouth.


Provide Constructive Criticism

This skill can be challenging, because others have varying degrees of tolerance for criticism. Parents of teens and tweens might find these strategies helpful in minimizing the “misunderstandings” that can mark these life seasons. And, because parents aren’t perfect either, consider encouraging your child to use these empowering tools as they share constructive criticism with you.

  • Sandwich the criticism between two compliments. The first compliment boosts their mood, then the criticism can follow. The final compliment lifts their spirits.
  • Address the behavior or the situation, not the person. For example, telling someone that they’re a slob is less effective than telling them their clutter is creating challenges for you.
  • Give recommendations. Offer up some advice on what can be done to improve.


Listening Skills

Eye-contact is also a big part of listening well. The other major component is focus. Give full attention to what the other person is saying. Ask relevant questions and provide feedback. Avoid looking around the room. People will assume that you’re disinterested if you appear to be distracted or looking for an escape. Focus takes practice. Some opportunities to practice this skill are at school, extracurricular activities, field trips, church services, lectures, and anywhere else one is expected to appear interested and engaged.

Building Rapport

Communication is usually more than just sharing information. Communication is a tool for building relationships. Without rapport, there is no relationship.

  • Maintain good eye contact and smile.
  • Use the other person’s name. (For those who are challenged by name-recall, this is a great way to lock in new names.)
  • Ask questions about the other person.
  • Find commonalities. What do you both like to do? What are your shared interests?
  • Use their favorite words and phrases. Have you ever noticed that you and your closest friends eventually share vocabulary and phrases? You can start doing that right away.

Knowing How Much to Share

If you share too little, you seem aloof or reserved. Share too much and you’re viewed as inappropriate or weird. As a rule, only share a little more than the other person is willing to share.

Consider the situation, too. A job interview, a classroom setting, or socializing with longtime friends are three different situations that call for different amounts of sharing. Providing appropriate and helpful feedback for your child will allow them to refine their “sharing” skills.

Sharing Time

The person that never stops talking is a bore. The person that never has anything to say is also a bore. Communication requires give and take. Ensure that you and they are holding up your end on both fronts. Contribute to the conversation, but be prepared to listen, too.

Social skills can be enhanced at any age, so it’s never too early or too late to learn how to communicate more skillfully. Social skills are one of the most essential skills you can possess. Helping your child develop outstanding social skills will give them an edge and increase the opportunities available to them–both now and in adulthood.

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