Social skills are crucial but often neglected aspects of a child’s education.
It’s important for children, particularly those with special needs, to interact well with one another and with adults.Social skills are often ignored, but so necessary.
There is no doubt that they are a challenge to introduce. We must have a complete understanding of what these skills are, why they are vital and most importantly, how to teach them.
What are social skills?
No one lives in isolation. So, we interact with one another to fulfill our social, emotional, physical and material needs.
Social skills are the techniques we use to communicate with each other verbally and physically. We use them to express our thoughts and feelings.
Why Social Skills Are Important
1. Improved Relationships
First of all, having social skills will make your child charismatic. It’s not easy to achieve one’s goals without stable interpersonal relationships. Social skills make career advancement and meaningful friendships possible.
Also, speaking to people, particularly in front of a large crowd, is a challenge for children with special needs. Honing your child’s social skills will help him to become comfortable in front of others.
Is your child a wallflower at parties? He may need to develop his ability to socialize with others.
Knowing how to interact with people will help your child avoid awkward social situations. It’s essential for him to learn to reject the people whom he doesn’t particularly like politely and mix with those whom he does.
4. Career Advancement
Most jobs involve a high level of interaction. Employees spend a lot of time with fellow workers, media, and bosses.
Therefore, your child will need to know how to work in a team. He must also know how to motivate people to get things done.
5. Conflict Resolution
Daily interaction means a possibility of conflict. Bullying incidents will increase if special needs children don’t have ways of ending quarrels.
6. Fostering cooperation
Moreover, special needs children will find it easier to work in teams if they have social skills. They will learn to meet their needs in a fair, responsible manner.
How to teach Special Needs Children Social Skills.
Eye contact is an essential aspect of socialization because few people draw close to those who look away. It’s also necessary for anyone, regardless of whether he or she has special needs, to learn how to read faces and interpret emotions. Furthermore, veering off topic will cause conversation partners to lose interest.
So, how do we help a special needs child learn socialization techniques? We play games, of course.
1. Eye Contact
First of all, meeting a person’s eyes shows that you’re interested in what he or she has to say. It also gives them confidence that the other party is listening.
To teach it, have staring contests. Compete with your child and find out if he or she can stare you down. Your child will learn how to focus on others.
Alternatively, place stickers on your forehead and get your child to train his or her eyes on them. It gets them to concentrate in a funny, non-threatening way.
Get your child to make eye contact with you as he or she swings. This activity is calming and promotes concentration.
2. Reading Emotions
Special needs children sometimes have difficulties telling if a person is angry. To teach them to read emotions, write feeling words down on pieces of paper and read them. You can substitute these words with angry, sad, and happy faces.
Mimicry is an ideal way to teach an autistic child emotions. Make happy, scared or frustrated faces and get your child to imitate you. Get him or her to associate the expressions with ‘feeling’ words.
3. Staying on Topic
All children have problems keeping to conversation topics. Autistic children, in particular, have difficulties making small talk.
Help them step into a conversation. Prepare cards with scripts for what they should say on someone’s birthday, in class, or ordering food at a restaurant. They can learn what to say to cashiers as well. Telling stories about these situations also increases learning.
In all, developing social skills prepares special needs children for life.