Preschool

Humans are social animals, and young children need to experience social success to fully develop their personalities and potential. But as easy as it may seem, getting along with others can be a rocky road for many young children. Studies repeatedly tell us that starting early, when the brain is still forming, is always the best time to teach new social, behavioral, and emotional skills.

Anger

Anger

While a certain amount of anger and frustration is to be expected in young 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 very young age. While shyness is fairly common among young 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.

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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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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. Subtle forms of bullying and teasing can begin as early as preschool.

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Classroom Behavior

Classroom Behavior

Even in a preschool setting, 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

Children are pre-wired to be compassionate and caring. Children as young as two will demonstrate that they understand the feelings of others, and will try to do something to help when someone is in distress.

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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 on a playground, you can tell in a minute which children are more “popular” with their peers, and 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, and when children have difficulty with greetings, they send a clear message that they will have difficulty in 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 preschool, children spend most of their time in groups of children; in the classroom, during snack, 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 and can be particularly difficult for young children. Adults appreciate patient children and see them as “well-behaved” and somewhat surprisingly, children appreciate this virtue as well.

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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 uncomfortable 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

Our expectations of how children should behave in public change as they age, and public behaviors that might be tolerated at three or four, become inappropriate or even odd at eight or nine. It is important that children begin understanding these expectations at a young age.

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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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