Elementary School

The ages between 5 and 12 are critical to a child’s social development. This is the time that children usually find a “best friend” and a same-sex peer group which will go a long way towards promoting a strong sense of identity. Failure to make friends can have a significant impact on a child’s life, and can contribute to severe emotional problems in childhood and adolescence.

Anger

Anger

While a certain amount of anger and frustration is to be expected in children, some children become easily frustrated by the normal ins and outs of a day. This frustration can lead to angry outbursts and other behavioral problems.

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Anxiety and Shyness

Anxiety

Social anxiety is common among children and can begin at a young age. While shyness is fairly common among children, children who are anxious about their social interactions tend to have problems as they grow older, and the anxiety they experience can make life very hard. Many parents feel that children will overcome their “shyness,” but this is generally not the case.

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Apologizing

Apologizing

Apologizing in a sincere and appropriate way is a social skill that is necessary throughout one’s lifetime. If not learned in early childhood, the lack of this skill may make many relationships unnecessarily difficult.

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Appearance

Appearance

Many children don’t realize how much their appearance affects their social acceptance. They may think that wearing the right sneakers or jeans is important to social acceptance, but in fact children judge each other on a much deeper level, paying more attention to what is different about other children than what is the same.

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Bullying and Teasing

Bullies

Bullying and teasing can take many forms, but it is always hurtful and sometimes extremely disruptive to a child’s development. Constant bullying and teasing can exacerbate anxiety problems or depression, and can cause children to hate going to school.

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Classroom Behavior

Classroom Behavior

Most children spend a great deal of their time in school classrooms. They are apt to be judged by their peers according to the way the act in these settings. Children who have difficulty following the rules of the class, or the hidden rules of social behavior may be disruptive and will likely have problems with their peers outside of the class.

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Compassion and Caring

Compassion and Caring

Caring and compassion is an important part of a child’s social development. Adults of course value these behaviors in children, but studies show that these behaviors are valued by other children as well.

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Compliments

Compliments

Giving and receiving compliments can be more difficult for kids than most adults realize. If children are having difficulty in reading social cues they may find it hard to know when to say the right thing or how to say it.

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Conversation Skills

Conversation Skills

Carrying on a conversation is like a dance, requiring a good sense of timing and the ability to both lead and follow. If you observe a group of children in a school cafeteria, you can tell in a minute which children are more “popular” with their peers, almost all of the time it will be the children with good conversational skills.

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Cooperation and Compromise

Compromise

Cooperation involves listening to what others are saying, understanding the benefits of sharing, and becoming comfortable with taking turns. In many situations, working together means coming up with an acceptable compromise.

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Friendship

Friendship

There are few things more important in childhood than having good friends. Generally, we expect a child to have had at least one “best friend” by the age of eight or nine, and to have a group of close friends by the age of twelve or thirteen.

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Greetings

Greetings

Greetings are the gateway to every social interaction. Greetings set the stage for inter-personal interaction. When children have difficulty with greetings, they send a clear message that they will have difficulty in other social situations.

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Group Behavior

Group Behavior

Interacting in a group requires a very different set of social skills than interacting with individuals. From the time they enter school, children spend most of their time in groups of children; in the classroom, in the lunch room, on the playground.

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Patience

Patience

Patience—the ability to delay one’s own gratification for the sake of others—is an important part of social success. Adults appreciate patient children and see them as “well-behaved” and somewhat surprisingly, children appreciate this virtue as well.

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Peer Pressure

Peer Pressure

The pressure to conform to group expectations is a part of being human. We are social animals, and being accepted by others is an important part of our self-image. But some children are overly concerned with the approval of their peers, even to extent of behaving in ways that they know adults will disapprove of.

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Personal Space

Personal Space

Most children intuitively know about personal space, when someone is standing too close, when someone is standing too far away, or when someone is touching them in an inappropriate way

But some children have difficulty learning the rules of non-verbal behavior, including the rules that govern personal space.

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Public Behavior

Public behavior

Adults are very aware of the different social rules that apply when they are in public or in private, but children often don’t see this distinction. Our expectations of how children should behave in public change with year, and public behaviors that might be tolerated at three or four, become inappropriate or even odd at eight or nine.

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Secrets and Lies

Secrets

Everyone keeps secrets, and nearly every one lies at some time, but how and when kids do this can make a significant difference in the way they are viewed by their peers.

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Self Worth and Confidence

Self Worth and Confidence

Young children must respect themselves before they can begin reaching out to others, encountering new people and situations. Children who feel self-worth and confidence have an easier time making friends, handling conflicts, and resisting negative pressures.

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Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship

“Being a good sport,” is more difficult than many people realize. Of course it involves following the rules of the game, but it also involves following social rules; empathizing with the feelings of others, winning graciously, responding appropriately when someone else wins and more.

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Technology

Technology

In the last few years technology has changed the way that children communicate. Many children say that it is easier for them to text their friends then actually talk to them, Technology has also brought on a new set of social rules for children, some of which are obvious and some of which are quite subtle.

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