I’m a full-time parent for 2 amazing boys and I consider myself a part time parent for all the children I come across in my life.
That’s why it’s my absolute pleasure to talk about activities for positive social wellbeing for our children.
The number of activities that promote for positive social wellbeing for toddlers, preschoolers, and students age groups is limitless and what is important, is to know the overall 8 social wellbeing skills that those activities fall under which are sharing, autonomy, feelings, speaking, listening, responding right, negotiating, collaboration and teamwork.
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8 Social wellbeing skills
Let’s find quick information about each of the social wellbeing skills to understand what kind of activity or game we can use, or create, to influence and plant the seed of this skill in our children’s life.
It’s about teaching children the power of sharing what we own with others, specially to others in need of what we have and don’t have it.
This is not only benefiting them in terms of making friends or strengthening their relationships, but also has a powerful impact on their spiritual wellbeing by being givers rather than takers.
Autonomy is about teaching your child confidence, critical thinking, and having intrinsic motivation when you trust him taking decision and accepting consequences.
The result is a child who can fly solo when the time comes, having a sense of mastery over their mind and environment. This helps him when choosing his friends by himself not because of you.
3- Mastering feelings
Understanding and managing feelings are part of our emotional intelligence (EQ), and they play a huge rule in our successes in making friends and creating meaningful connections.
That’s why children must learn the different feelings early on, and then advance to learn how to manage them effectively.
How you speak within your family is probably the biggest factor affecting your speaking skills when you grow up. It’s then when you were encouraged to speak up and praised on the things you did right. Or it’s when you were told to lower your voice or shut up and were neglected or punished if you did it wrong.
That’s why parents must notice how they are supporting their children’s speaking skills and drive it the right way.
Another skill that is being molded early on, the ability to listen the right way to our brothers and sisters and understand their real message.
This is more apparent with parents with 2 or more children. It’s then when the fights happen over toys or games turn. This is the perfect opportunity for parents to plant the seed of listening to the other party and understand his message to respond right.
6- Responding right
Every action has a reaction that is equivalent to its intensity and is in the opposing direction. This is true with communication skills, but it doesn’t have to be. Or to be more accurate, we have control over choosing the kind of intensity to use.
Parents should be mindful of the messages they teach their children when it comes to responding to other children’s actions. Is it an eye for an eye? Or politeness triumph anger? Or both interchangeably according to the situation?
Whether you like it or not, negotiation is going to be part of your child’s life since early on and throughout his entire life. He’ll negotiate his playing time, or the toy to have, or increasing his pocket money, or the gift he’ll receive at his birthday, etc.
It’s an essential skill to be learnt in the early stages of children’s life if you ask me, and the good news is, it’s applicable to do so with different activities and fun games
8- Collaboration and teamwork
Unless in crises, your child won’t be alone. He’ll be surrounded with others in kindergarten, school, sport team, family, and neighborhood.
That’s why teaching your child early on what collaboration and teamwork are and how to do them right, is crucial in developing your child’s social wellbeing.
Again, there are numerous activities and games you can use for that purpose.
Social wellbeing activities for toddlers (1-3)
Below are examples of activities to promote positive social wellbeing for your toddlers, preschoolers, and children aged 5 and above. They are not the entire list because it’s endless.
You have an idea now about the basic social skills that you need to build in your child above, and you can get creative and come up with a specific activity or a game that suits your own child.
Activity: Young assistant
Description: Let your toddler help with simple tasks like cleaning a chair or putting the toys away.
Social skills included: Autonomy, Sharing, responding right, and collaboration and teamwork.
Description: Telling stories, whether at bedtime or throughout the day, involving the lesson you want to teach your child. This is a powerful tool to use, specially if you’re getting good at it, as it can help with teaching any skills.
Social skills included: all social skills are included
Activity: The Chef
Description: You setup an environment for a restaurant or a cafeteria, and your son plays the chef of that restaurant, making food with his toys and giving them away to clients which are you and his friends.
This can be any profession that is service based, that depends on your son serving others by sharing with them some of his toys as part of that activity.
So, if it’s a diner then his toys will be the food he gives away to his friends. If he’s a driver, he can let others ride his car or bike with him to transport them, etc.
This is an amazing tool to teach sharing with others and you need to be careful not to push it hard though. Sharing takes time, and at first, it’s important for you to show to your child that you’re on his side protecting his toys by explaining to others things like “this is his toy, and he wants to keep it clean or safe from harm. Next time he may let you play with it. What about this toy (pointing to another one)”
Social skills included: Sharing, responding right, and negotiation.
Activity: The play
Description: It’s about using toys or puppies to make a play that has different emotions while naming them to make your toddler understands the different emotions, their names, and how they look like in action.
Next time you’re sad, he’ll know because of the similar behaviors with what he learnt from the play.
It’s like stories but the difference here is the action, engagement, and involvement of your toddler in the play.
Social skills included: Feelings.
Activity: The observer
Description: Take your toddler to a park or kids playing zone to watch the other children play together.
This is going to help him or her learn about playing with others as a result of him or her observing other creatures with similar physics and characteristics.
According to Robert Cialdini, this is one of the factors of influence called, the social proof, meaning we tend to do what others like us do.
When it comes to children, study found that children who saw a film depicting a child’s positive visit to the dentist lowered their own dental anxieties principally when they were the same age as the child in the film
Activity: The narrator
Description: It’s about labeling the feelings of your toddler throughout the day, specially when no playing is in action. Your toddler needs to hear you labeling his sad feeling by saying “Oh, you seem sad”.
You can do this with all other emotions like being happy or mad, or angry or disappointed.
The benefit here is repetition to what you’re doing with the other activities when they aren’t applicable like while doing errands.
The other benefit is for you, the parent, to acknowledge your toddler’s feeling because it’s going to take few years before he uses the feelings names.
Up till adulthood, the part of the brain that is responsible for controlling the feelings isn’t developed yet, and that’s why our children always use the feelings in expressing themselves, by storming out or yelling or crying or kicking something, etc.
That’s why when you name the feeling for your toddler, not only he’s going to learn it, but also, you’re going to be reminded of how he feels and act accordingly (or at least this is how it should be :D)
Social skills included: feelings
Social wellbeing activities for preschoolers (3-5)
Activity: The movie
Description: It’s about making your child star in his own movie, which you can help in creating or letting him do the whole thing. Next is to watch his act, encourage him, and give advice on performance.
This is very helpful with mastering speaking skills
Social skills included: Speaking, and feelings
Activity: The young adult
Description: Let your child do more things for himself and by himself. They can comb their hair or put on their shoes when you go out or help with setting up the table or cleaning the house by taking a part of it.
Make sure to be patient till they finish as it’ll take time, and praise them for their trial and independence by saying things like “ that’s my boy/girl”
Social skills included: Autonomy
Activity: The argument
Description: make up an argument between the different toys and let your child get involved with his opinion and which side he’s taking and why.
I use it all the time with my 4 years old boy, by creating one between batman and spiderman, his 2 favorite superheroes now, and how each think he’s stronger than the other.
Each time we take turn, and I’m always surprised of his answers and how he lists the strengths for his toy, why it’s good, and why the other isn’t.
It’s good to build the skill of having an opinion, and to see the situation from both sides.
Social skills included: negotiation, speaking, listening, and decision making (which is part of autonomy)
Activity: Team up
Description: When you have planned visits from his friends or you are gathering with your friends and their children, come up with team-based games.
It could be playing football, playing catch, doing quizzes competition between teams, acting out movies game, rope pulling, coloring, etc.
These games are good opportunities to identify gaps in teamwork, feelings, and autonomy
Social skills included: Autonomy, feelings, collaboration, and teamwork.
Description: to involve your child in a suitable sport according to his interest and age. This is beneficial for developing many of his social wellbeing skills
Also, as we discussed in the 9 Simple Activities To Improve Social Wellbeing, sports are good for making new friends and creating a group for your child to belong to.
Social skills included: autonomy, feelings, collaboration, and teamwork, speaking, listening, and responding right.
Description and social skills included: Just like with Toddlers
Social wellbeing activities for students (5-16)
For this age group, many of the activities we discussed in the 9 Simple Activities To Improve Social Wellbeing, can be used here as well.
Refer to that article for more information about each activity and what kind of factors affecting social wellbeing, it overcomes.
Activity: Get active together
Description: Joining sports team
Social skills included: Autonomy, feelings, speaking, listening, collaboration and teamwork, plus making friends and creating a group to belong to.
Activity: Get happy together
Description: joining a group with the same hobby or interest like drawing or music or movies, etc.
Social skills included: as in get active together
Activity: Take courses
Description: joining a group to learn something new or improve it.
Social skills included: Same as above plus negotiation can be included if the course is about that topic.
Activity: Join events
Description: participating in a special event at school like trees day or health day and get involved into the activities
Social skills included: same as above.
Activity: Bond with parents
Description: In the other article it was about you bonding with your kid by using some or all of the above activities in his early years. Now it’s about building the habit or ritual of doing a thing or more together.
It could be walking or running with each other every Friday afternoon. It could be watching a movie together in a specific day. It can be playing cards, or drawing, or building things, or playing video games or with Lego.
What is important for you to notice, is that he’s the one to come up with the activity he likes to do with you. Previously it was about you choosing the activity, which he liked of course, but now it’s his turn.
Social skills included: All social skills depending on the activity, plus strengthening the most important relationship between parents and their children.
Let me know what kind of activities you do with your child to improve his or her social wellbeing?