The upcoming holiday season will likely have more social interactions. Helping kids with basic social skills will make these easier. Dinosaurs to the rescue.
Well, a little bit. Although the t-rex was better left all alone, scientists think that some dinosaurs banded together in groups or herds. Any group behavior comes with expectations and conditions and these must be learned.
For kids, picking up social skills can be a challenge. Besides opportunities to interact with others, stories are another effective way to support learning. In the book, Suppose You Meet A Dinosaur, A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra and Tim Bowers, a child quickly uses some very important words to talk with a somewhat clumsy dinosaur. These are the words that kids need every day, like please, thank you, and excuse me.
While it’s easy to accept why it’s important for kids to be able to communicate with others, it’s harder to understand why social skills are so critical. We tend to think that learning is something that happens to us as individuals but really we learn from and with others. Watching and imitating are two strategies that even infants use to figure out the world. Toddlers will expand this to pretending and if there aren’t any real people to be part of the play, will imagine them.
The most sensitive time for a child to learn basic social skills is during the preschool years. Besides books, parents and caregivers can use dolls, puppets, or dinosaurs. When your child is playing, you might be the voice of a dinosaur and interact with your child. The dinosaur could ask a question, such as “Is it okay if I have a turn, please?” Using a different voice and another dinosaur, you might comment that you noticed the other one asking instead of simply grabbing and using the word please.
The words thank you and being thankful are so important we have a day to celebrate! Are you thankful you won’t meet a dinosaur?