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3 Skills to Help Children Gain Social Competence

All children are turned down by friends–even the most popular kids! Researchers found in a study of second and third graders that 26 percent of the time, even the most well-liked children in the class were told they couldn’t join groups already playing.

Be sure to tell your child before he attempts to join a group: “Everyone gets turned down now and then so if a group tells you “no”, accept it and find another group. Don’t argue, beg, cry, or plead to be part of the group; those behaviors turn kids off even more. Just move on and try again.”

Researchers have also discovered that there are certain skills some kids use that help them be less likely to be picked on. And because these kids turned these skills into a habit – repeatedly using these practices on their own without adult reminders), they are not only rejected more but also more popular with kids.

The best news: these three skills are easy to teach your child and once learned they will use them in every arena of their lives to boost their social competence.

Dr. William Hartup, from the University of Minnesota, found through extensive observations that the most well-liked children often praise, cooperate, and encourage others. Children who didn’t cooperate or who ridiculed, ignored or put down others are most likely to be disliked by classmates. Kids just like to be around kids who accept them and build them up. And that’s information our kids need to hear.

Here’s three quick ways to help your children learn the importance of encouraging others.

1. Make a List of Encouragers

Tell your child one of the secrets of people who get along is that they frequently encourage others. Point out when NFL players give each other hugs or when those Lakers give “High Fives” to their teammates.

Then brainstorm a list of supportive statements that build others up such as:

“Great idea!, Super!, Nice try!, Good shot!, Good answer!, Great game! Keep it up! Wow”

Now post the list and say them frequently so your kids will “catch them” and start using them with their peers.

Read more: Dr. Michelle Borba


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