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Social skills - for children

social; skills; friends; conflict; resolution; manners; listen; listening; lies; cheating; respecting; participation; friendship; resolving; communication; negotiation;


Social skills are the ways in which we interact with others. If we have good social skills then this can help us become confident, happy people who are easy to get along with.

When you have finished reading this topic click on the button at the bottom to do a survey to let us know which social skills you think are the most important.

What are social skills?

Social skills are:                 

  • Cooperation – playing your part in a positive way, eg. taking turns, doing your part of a shared task. Have a look at 'Let's cooperate'.
    team work
  • Being a friend - there are many levels of friendship, our topic on Making friends will tell you more.
  • Sharing - like treats, belongings and ideas with others, (that means yours and theirs).
  • Participation - joining in and 'giving it a go' even if you are not very good at something.
  • Being patient – everyone has the right to be heard and considered so everyone needs to learn patience and wait for his or her turn.
  • Helping others - even the little kids can help others so that the job gets done or someone can feel cared about.
  • Following directions - learning to follow directions or rules helps keep us all safe and well.
  • Staying on task - getting our own job done and not stopping others from doing theirs.
  • Accepting differences - every person is unique and special and we all have feelings. Have a look at 'What is diversity'.
  • Listening - learning to be an 'active listener'.
  • Praising others and not using 'put downs'. Letting people know when they have done well and not being mean when they haven't.
  • Positive communication and interaction - if you are nice to others then they are usually nice to you. Shouting and bullying may get attention but won't win friends.
    be nice to others
  • Being polite and courteous - always saying hello to people you know, visitors and family friends.
  • Using good manners when talking, eating or in public. See our topic on Good manners.  
  • Respecting ourselves, others and property, and accepting responsibility for what you say or do. This includes being honest and truthful. Check out our topics on Gossip, Telling lies, Cheating - at school and Cheating – at sport and games.
  • Being respectful of your rights and the rights of others. Our topic Respect - a way of life can tell you more.
  • Resolving conflicts when you have a problem with someone or they have a problem with you. Conflict resolution will help you here.

We worked with kids to divide social skills into the following areas, and then we all decided which particular skills were needed for each area.

Communication skills

To be able to communicate well with others we thought these skills were important:             

  • active listeninggood manners
  • active listening (Have a look at the topic Conflict resolution to find out what 'active listening' means.)
  • gestures and eye contact
  • listening with understanding and empathy (putting yourself in the place of the other person)
  • thinking before you speak
  • speaking clearly and not shouting
  • having a sense of humour.

Respecting yourself and others

Respecting yourself and others needs these skills according to the group:

  • using good manners
  • cooperating
  • sharing and taking turns
  • being assertive
  • being patient
  • following directions and staying on task
  • accepting differences and acknowledging rights
  • no bullying, teasing or putdowns
  • respecting all property
  • no gossip or spreading rumours
  • being kind in what you say and do
  • treating people equally
  • trying to make everyone feel special and happy
  • being open to your and others' feelings. 


Participating (joining in) can be very difficult for some people but if you work on these skills it could get easier and a whole lot more fun:

  • being active
  • taking part and having a go even if you are feeling shy
  • having fun - you don't have to be the best at anything to do this
  • resilience - keep trying and don't give up too easily. Our topic on 'Resilience - don't let things get you down' will help here.
  • focusing and concentrating on what you need to do
  • practising skills (like ball skills)
  • working together and making sure you do your part as well as you can
  • including everyone
  • building your confidence
  • staying on track
  • switching off your phone, etc at mealtimes and family events epecially if older people are around. They can get very grumpy if you don't at least ask if it's ok for you to move away and check your phone.

Friendship skills

Everyone needs friends but some people have problems making and keeping friends. We decided that the following skills were needed:

  • be a good friendinteraction skills like smiling, eye contact, listening
  • cooperation and sharing
  • respecting confidences (things that others have asked you not to tell to anyone else, unless it is not a safe secret), rights and property
  • keeping your word
  • praising others, no put downs
  • acknowledging when you make a mistake  
  • being open to new friendships
  • being loyal
  • being kind
  • having a sense of humour, especially being able to laugh at yourself.

Resolving conflict

Everyone has problems with others sometimes. The trick is to sort them out as quickly as possible. These skills will help:

  • accept - respecttalking it out  
  • practising active listening
  • staying calm
  • being open to other ideas
  • controlling anger
  • compromising
  • persisting - never leave a problem unresolved
  • standing up for yourself without bullying or shouting
  • dealing with the present, what actually happened
  • getting to the point and being clear about what you want
  • staying focused - don't drag others into it or bring up past conflicts
  • learning to forgive – forgive yourself as well as others.
    good social skills

What kids say                  

We asked the question "Which social skills do you think are the most important and why?"

If you want to see what some kids thought then click here (PDF 34kb)

Dr Kate says

Dr KateSocial skills help our society to work well. We start learning these skills as babies and continue learning and improving them during our lives.

Did you have a look at what some kids thought were the most important social skills?

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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