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Ideas for developing social skills in young children

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Little children are terrific observers, and they are especially observant of the important people in their lives. They mimic the behaviors they see, and they repeat the phrases they hear. So the best way to promote positive social skills and good behaviors in young children is to set the example by being a good role model. As a former preschool teacher, making sure children saw and heard adults using good manners and treating others with respect was an essential part of the school day.

Games (like Candyland or Chutes and Ladders) help with concepts like taking turns and cooperation. Putting together puzzles with someone else is another way to practice cooperation. Doing activities like cooperative painting and cooperative drawing activities on large sheets of paper with the children are other enjoyable ways for them to learn social skills. Pairing children with a partner for activities is a natural way to help develop social skills.
When children feel secure and loved they are more apt to be kind and caring to others. And recognizing feelings helps children to become more empathetic with others.

Here are some good books that emphasize friendship and caring in ways children can understand. Plus they will enjoy the time spent with a caring adult.

• Amigo Means Friend by Louise Everett
• Peter's Chair by Ezra Jack Keats
• Bear's Bargain by Frank Asch
• Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
• Dogger by Shirley Hughes
• A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
• The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
• Shy Charles by Rosemary Wells
• Ernest and Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent
• Friends in the Park by Rochelle Bunnett
• Making Friends by Fred Rogers
• Jamaica's Find by Jaunita Havill
• Little Critter's This is My Friend by Mercer Mayer
• Shy Charles by Rosemary Wells
• We Are Best Friends by Aliki
• The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

You will find many of these titles at your local library. Helping young children learn about social skills and how to be a caring and kind will aid them in becoming kind, caring and socially able adults.

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