Teach invaluable prosocial skills through cooperative games.

Phil McInnes

Lock down rules have limited or even eliminated our young kids attendance at school and opportunities for play dates with friends. Does this mean that their socialization is being stunted?

Not necessarily and in fact perhaps to the contrary. Evidence indicates that many positive social skills are best learned from older children and adults.Let's look at a few opportunities and how we can take advantage of the "home time" that we have with our children.

For example, how do we develop positive social skills such as cooperation, understanding others' perspectives, observing social etiquette and offering help?

An opportunity is provided by playing cooperative games with your pre-schooler and involving older siblings. In cooperative games, you play together as a family/team against the "game". The more you cooperate, share ideas, problem-solve together and help each other, the better you do. These games are fun for the whole family, play out in different ways and allow everyone regardless of age to make a meaningful contribution. The great thing is that you can role-model and reinforce social etiquette such as not interrupting when someone else is talking, waiting your turn, asking questions and understanding the perspectives of others and the value of joint problem-solving, cooperation and collaboration.

The range of prosocial skills that these cooperative games enable you to teach and reinforce extend beyond those mentioned above. And, the benefits are extensive, if you start encouraging the use of these capabilities in your inductive, authoritative (versus authoritarian) approach to parenting your pre-schooler. You can discuss behavioural issues much more constructively and help your child to find solutions to problems that they might experience in playing with friends or in interacting with older siblings.

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