Last Updated on February 8, 2022 by Editorial Team
The elementary level is the phase when students are trying to accustom themselves to newer environments. Their time with family is almost up and life starts revolving mostly around things they do with peers. Parents also want kids to display characteristics of being friendlier, welcoming, and sociable.
These traits are nothing but the outcomes of social skills. Some learn easily; others need extra effort. Hence, it is necessary for both parents and teachers to let the kids feel normal and encourage them to be socially active. How it can be done through social skills development activities for elementary students, let us explore a bit.
In this post, we intend to discuss:
- Causes of poor social skills in elementary level
- Types of social skills difficulties
- Easy activities that help develop social skills
So, let’s begin!
Causes of poor social skills in elementary level
What exactly do poor social skills mean? Well, It is very easy to spot a child having social skills difficulties. Such children do everything to avoid mingling with others. They practice unexplained loneliness and behave inappropriately when put in social settings. This lack of normalcy in behavior or inability to express themselves correctly and confidently is classified as poor social skills. It arises due to:
- Learning disorders: Since kids can’t express through verbal or written means correctly due to learning disorders, they tend to remain aloof. Their inability to act in an age-appropriate manner interferes with their ability to make friends as children of same group can’t figure out how to deal with them.
- Language Issues: Languages are needed to express ideas, or feelings. When kids meet contemporaries who speak different language, they find it dfficult to communicate; it leads to their avoiding social interactions.
- Unhealthy environment at home: Stressful conditions at home impact impressionable minds of young children. Since they find it diffcult to trust people or are sad due to unhappy conditions at home, they lag in social skills learning.
- Mental health concerns: Issues like anxiety and depression lower enthusiasm in children. They don’t like doing any social activities much as they are always unsure of their feelings, and are not mature enough to understand their mental state.
All these issues interfere with the development of social skills. The difficulties arising due to these reasons are concisely explained here.
Types of social skills difficulties
Poor social skills affect all aspects of interpersonal interactions that a child is supposed to have. Some researchers even indicate that these difficulties make them physically ill too. Hence, you must know about the kinds of social skills deficits common among growing children. According to a book by American Psychiatric Association, ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, social skills deficits in children are of the following types:
- Poor Body Language: Kids don’t maintain eye-to-eye contact. They start going fidgety and don’t stand still as well when they are asked any question.
- Poor accountability: Children with poor social skills don’t display appreciable accountabilty in their behavior. They tend to pass the buck when given a task or search for ways to shift the blame when making a mistake.
- Almost nil participation in social activities: They don’t indulge in activities of social importance. Avoiding parties, going out with friends or not feeling happy with peers are some of the noticeable traits.
- Inability to do activities governed by norms: Whenever kids are driven towards playing games, or attending the events that has code of conduct, they tend to stray from the norms. Showing anxiousness while waiting for turn or going aggressive or overtly shy is common among children with poor social skills
All these signs of poor social skills have now become a hot topic of discussion. The curriculum of early education has undergone a transformation with an increased focus on developing social skills. A few research-backed intervention programs helped put awareness into action. Those intervention programs are as below.
Easy activities that help develop social skills
Based on Goldsteins’ Social Skills Approach (1986) mentioned in a study, the intervention program can include the following set of activities. Goldstein advocated the use of a psycho-educational approach for imparting social skills. It emphasized assessing the type and extent of social skills deficit in children and then deciding the activity-set that may help in removing the learning gap. He employed this approach later in 1997 while writing the book Skillstreaming the Adolescent where he classified skill groups as basic, advanced, alternative approaches to aggression, dealing with stress and feelings, etc. The activities proposed were:
- Include conversation starters in practice: The teachers can select a group of conversation starters to help kids learn how to lead any talk, and let people know what they want to talk about
- Apologizing – when and why: Poor accountability issues can be handled with this activity. Children are taught about common mistakes and how to admit those without losing self-respect.
- Socializing with a friend: Teachers may divide the class into pairs and ask them to spend time with each other. It helps them become empathetic towards others’ needs; inviting the friend may help the child understand the concept of guest and host.
- Standing up for the self and the friend: When kids don’t agree to some action, or find any behavior meted out to them wrong, they are shown responses through acts.
- Recording response to failures and finding ways to improve outcomes: Failure to do something needs to be addressed in a positive manner. Teachers can show the probable causes of failure and the ways to practice.
- Emotion Charades: Make groups and ask one to express emotions of sadness, anger, frustration, etc. The other group guesses the expressions.
- Staring contest: Avoiding eye-to-eye contact interrupts effective communication. Organizing a staring contest helps childer develop habit of maintaining eye contact.
- Pass the ball after rolling it, one by one: Ask children to sit in a circle. Handover the ball to any child to start the round. Child accepts the balls, rolls it and then passes it to the next child. It helps learn to wait for turn, remember sequence and follow norms.
- Video chatting with peers: Video chatting also improves eye contact and helps practice conversational skills
- Pick the topic and write relevant words: Child can be given any topic from surroundings, such as classroom, parents, Friends, etc. Using all the letters from alphabet, they can write the words that revolve around the topic. It helps develop cognitive awareness and also teaches how to stick to a point of discussion.
Social skills perplex elementary students with learning disorders a lot often and more conspicuously than their peers. The fear of becoming a thing of ridicule or possible exposure to bullying keeps such students away from being social. With correct and regular intervention programs and activities, you may expect to achieve better results and make children more confident in social settings.
 Poor Skills May be Harmful to Physical and Mental Health, Alexis Blue in University Communications of University of Arizona, 2017
 Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy, Debra Umberson and Jennifer Karas Montez, Journal of Health and Social behavior, 2010