Raising a child is a tough job! It comes with joy and happy moments, but also with its fair share of challenges. Something that many parents battle with, especially with children who do not have siblings, is sharing and teaching them to play well with other children.
One thing that works very well in helping your child to develop better social skills is to play some games. The best games for helping a child to develop a healthy respect for others include hide and seek, where they each have to take turns. Board games also encourage taking turns which is important for playing well together.
Another wonderful game developed by a teacher involves placing a deck of cards face down on a table. A group of children take it in turns to run to the table and turn a card over. The aim is to find all the cards in order from 1 to Ace. Only one child is allowed at the table and the others must wait until he or she is sitting in the group again before the next child goes to the table. Very soon, the kids learn to work together and tell each other what card they just turned over and where it is on the table, so that they can eventually get the order correct.
Team work is important and taking part in sports will also help to develop social skills. Get your child involved in soccer, cricket, or any other team sport.
Sometimes just letting a child play with another child can show you where you need to help them. Some children are extremely protective of their toys and have difficulty sharing, whereas some children expect there to be no boundaries when playing with other children’s toys. A healthy balance must be found between sharing toys and understanding when a special toy or item should not be played with.
When your child has a sibling, they will have to learn to play together without fighting. While you have to expect some fighting, you should always instil the notion of sharing and being kind, whilst still being confident. Teach them from a young age to say -please and thank you when they want to play with someone else’s toy, but also tell them they if the other child says -no that they should respect that. Likewise, teach them that it is ok to say -no if they don’t want another child playing with a specific toy.
You have to let them develop their own personalities and social skills to a degree, but as a parent, you should always be on hand to guide them and correct them when their behaviour is unacceptable. A lot about playing well together is listening, so teach them to listen to their friend and not to be selfish. You can encourage listening skills by doing an exercise where kids have to tell a story about something exciting they did that day. If they interrupt, make sure you stop them and get your child to focus on what their friend is saying.
Monitor your child when he or she is playing for biting or hitting. Teach them that this is NOT OKAY no matter what the other child has done. Most of the time, children will do this out of frustration and because they don’t know how to handle the situation they are in. Intervene right away and show them the correct way of handling the situation.
Unfortunately, you can only do so much. Eventually your child has to stand on his or her own feet and work it out for themselves, and it can be really hard when it is actually another child that doesn’t play nicely. If this is the case, you could politely talk to the parents and don’t be afraid of intervening if the other child’s parents don’t. Don’t let your child get pushed around because you are scared of what others will think!