Friendship and Social Skills: Why Are They Important?
We, as humans, are in a world filled with people. We have no choice but to interact in some way throughout our lives. With increasing technology, there is a decreasing emphasis on social skills. I see people every day, both at work and in everyday life, that need some sort of assistance with social interaction. Whether we are interacting face-to-face or via text or some other online platform, we need to be able to communicate effectively.
SOCIAL SKILLS OR INTERACTION SKILLS
The skills I’m talking about aren’t necessarily something you need to think about. People over the age of around 30, don’t usually have difficulty in social situations. We learned from a young age how to interact because we did it regularly. Instead of texting our friends, we had to go knock on their door, say hello to their parents and ask if our friends could come and play. Little did we know that these skills were something we’d use throughout life in many situations! Greetings, salutations, taking turns, and asking questions are just a few of the skills that we learn through observation and imitation when we are young. Now that technology has seeped into our lives, things are a bit different. Texting has changed our dictionary – Yes, the acronym LOL is in the scrabble dictionary now!! With all of these changes, there has been a decrease in the emphasis of face-to-face social skills. Why or when are these important? We need these skills to get a job and interact with people every day – interviews, in a restaurant, at the movies, interacting with co-workers or class mates, just to name a few. If we don’t know what to do, then how will we do it?
Friendship is just one part of social interaction. I have had some young clients tell me “I don’t need friends”. I beg to differ! Our friends are the first extension of our family, especially early in life. We practice social skills with them and they are usually an unbiased and unjudging venue for that practice. This is also how we learn to interact with people outside of our family – we learn that although you might hug and kiss your mom and dad, you don’t do this with friends – we are learning socially acceptable boundaries. This also teaches us skills that will transfer over into working environments when we are older. It’s also the first avenue where we learn to negotiate, express our opinions and learn to argue our point of view as well as understand other’s point of view. All of these skills will help us become a good worker and an advocate for ourselves or others in the future. I’m not saying you need 1000 friends on Facebook, I’m saying you need a few close real-life friends that you trust and trust you to help navigate this crazy world of ours!
WHAT DO I DO TO HELP MY KIDS LEARN THESE SOCIAL SKILLS?
Have a conversation with them. Set aside time to demonstrate these skills to them and show them what they should be doing. For example, make dinner time a “no technology” time so you can actually interact with each other. Ask them questions about their lives “tell me your favorite part of the day today”. Show them how to listen and answer “my favorite part was ____ because ____”. Play outside – no technology! Teach them the games you used to play, run, skip, jump, play hide-and-go-seek! Have your child interact with the people and things in their world and set a good example for them! Don’t sit on your device, actually interact with people, on the phone or in person and show your kids how, otherwise, they might not ever learn.
For more ideas or to ask questions, feel free to comment!
Lynsey Wilson is a Communication Disorders assistant with experience treating a wide range of clients with varying ages and disorders. She also has her Early Childhood Educator certificate and specializes in working with pediatric clients. Lynsey enjoys working with a variety of age groups to keep her on her toes!