As an early childhood professional, supporting the success of your students is a top priority, especially when it comes to their social skills in the classroom. Fortunately, preschoolers are actively pursuing independence, self-identity and developing communication proficiencies, so shaping their social behaviors is imperative.
Here are a few strategies that will play a key role in supporting the social skills of your preschoolers:
Support Their Emotions
Children need to understand that feeling bad, sad or indifferent happens from time to time, and that it’s okay to experience these emotions. The key here is to offer constructive suggestions for how to cope with these negative feelings. For example, if a child experiences frustration and lashes out, you should validate that emotion, let them be aware that their approach is not effective, then encourage a proactive response for dealing with this emotion. Engage in a conversation with them, talk through the steps and lead them to a solution.
Offer Praise and Promote Emotional Growth
When your students are demonstrating giving or helping behaviors, such as assisting you in a task, or helping one of their peers with a problem or challenge – this is an opportune moment to praise this positive behavior. Let them know how impressed you are with their caring and supportive behavior, and besides praise, bring to light the happiness they feel with their good deeds. This type of approval will encourage more of this positive behavior and pique their interest in giving to others.
Empathy may be a challenging concept for the little ones to comprehend but committing to this will heed positive results for your classroom dynamic as well as the child’s understanding of themselves and others. Helping children understand that not everyone thinks or feels the same way they do is key to the friendships they will build with their peers while also promoting a positive self-image.
Communicate the Importance of Sharing
Sharing is a concept that will take your preschoolers some time to develop, so making this process a comfortable one for the child (and you) will offer better results. You wouldn’t want to have a child give up their favorite toy in an effort to teach them to share but making sure there’s a surplus of toys so that enforcing this concept is less challenging. And, encouraging sharing is much more effective when a child feels that it’s his or her decision and that they’re not being pressured to share – see things from their perspective and let the child have ownership of them sharing.
Creating an environment of open, honest and encouraging communication will set in motion a classroom filled with cooperative and socially successful preschoolers.