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Help Your School-Age Child Develop Social Skills

Topic Overview

Most school-age children feel driven to "make it" in the world away from home. Making friends and being accepted become top priorities.

School is a testing ground where children evaluate, accept, and reject each other daily. At times, parents cringe at the degree to which children try to fit in and are often saddened by their children's many ups and downs. Parents often see children's interactions as cruel, and they can be. But through these encounters, children learn some of the basic social skills needed to be competent adults. Be prepared for the tumultuous nature of friendships in this age group, and do not exaggerate the importance of the rough periods.

There is no one easy formula for teaching social skills. People learn through watching parents, friends, and others interact over a lifetime. Although bullying or abusive behavior should be addressed, parents should be sensitive about when to get involved and try to let children work out issues on their own.

Here are some crucial skills that will help your child become more socially competent:

  • Let other people know that you appreciate them.
  • Avoid gossip and put-downs.
  • Seek wise people as advisors and friends.
  • Don't let a disagreement hurt a friendship.
  • Take immediate action to make things right as soon as you realize you have made a mistake.

Around age 9, many children successfully form close friendships. Forming these relationships helps children develop sensitivity to the feelings of others.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Newman BM, Newman PR (2012). Middle childhood (6 to 11 years). In Development Through Life: A Psychosocial Approach, 11th ed., pp. 288–332. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Last Revised May 14, 2013

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