5–6 Years

Parents (USA) - - Contents -

Nav­i­gate so­cial stick­ing points.

Pri­or­i­tize th­ese lessons too.

In ad­di­tion to all the ed­u­ca­tional prep you’ve done to get your kid ready for “real” school, so­cial-emo­tional skills will ben­e­fit him at home, in class, and in the fu­ture. He needs to know how to get along with oth­ers, ex­press his feel­ings ap­pro­priately (and al­low oth­ers to do the same), and han­dle sticky sit­u­a­tions with his sib­lings and peers.

La­bel feel­ings.

Some­times kids act out their emo­tions in­ap­pro­pri­ately be­cause they don’t un­der­stand what they’re feel­ing or have the vo­cab­u­lary to ex­press it. Help your child iden­tify her emo­tions. Say, “I know you’re an­gry be­cause we can’t have dessert be­fore din­ner.” Emo­tion cha­rades is an­other way to build her emo­tional vo­cab­u­lary: Take turns act­ing out and guess­ing some com­mon feel­ings. Then come up with proper ways to ex­press them, such as say­ing “I’m mad,” tak­ing deep breaths, or hav­ing a time-out.

Do chores to­gether.

This lets your child prac­tice work­ing with oth­ers, ne­go­ti­at­ing (“Can I set the ta­ble in­stead of dust­ing?”), han­dling dif­fer­ences of opin­ions (like when he thinks putting his toys un­der the bed is clean­ing his room and you dis­agree), and com­ing up with so­lu­tions for frus­trat­ing prob­lems (one plant isn’t grow­ing be­cause it doesn’t get enough sun­light). Sure, hav­ing him help may slow you down a bit, but the knowl­edge he’ll gain will be worth it.

Make it ex­cit­ing.

Games are a fun way for chil­dren to learn about tak­ing turns, work­ing with a team, and win­ning and los­ing grace­fully. Have fre­quent fam­ily game nights, and take turns fill­ing dif­fer­ent roles—banker, score­keeper, snack per­son—each time. Keep the games fun and friendly. Yes, you can ex­pect com­pet­i­tive­ness, but if things get heated (cheat­ing, sore-loser be­hav­ior, ar­gu­ments be­tween sib­lings), use it as an op­por­tu­nity to teach your child how to han­dle those is­sues.

Cre­ate sce­nar­ios.

Use “What if … ” ques­tions to help your child learn how to nav­i­gate some com­mon so­cial prob­lems she may en­counter. Ask her, “What would you

do if a friend wanted you to jump off the top of the slide with him at re­cess?” or “What would you say if you broke a class­mate’s fa­vorite toy?” Give her a chance to come up with re­sponses. De­pend­ing on what she says, walk her through the steps of say­ing no or apol­o­giz­ing to her friend. When she asks you “What if … ” ques­tions, of­fer good ex­am­ples of em­pa­thetic be­hav­ior or how to solve prob­lems.

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