To have a successful and happy life with a solid social circle and lasting friendships, teenagers must become confident communicators and develop strong interpersonal skills, both online and in real-life social situations.
Regrettably, many teens (and their families) may find themselves struggling with this aspect of their personal development in the “always online” age they were born into. But despite these complex new challenges, the fundamental nature of our brains and human emotions remains unchanged.
Why Is My Teenager Lacking Social Skills?
It’s no secret to concerned parents that the landscape of social skills for teens has dramatically evolved and shifted over the last decade or two.
This is largely due to the pervasiveness of technologies like smartphones, video games, social media, and the widespread use of distance learning through platforms like Zoom classrooms. It was always pretty obvious these advancements could lead to a range of social challenges for teenagers, such as social isolation and loneliness, but as you may have noticed, they also appear to contribute to distorted self-esteem, social anxiety, depression, and increased dependency on virtual interactions.
According to a study published in the journal ‘Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking‘, too much screen time and online bullying can severely harm young people’s mental health. This makes it increasingly difficult for kids, teenagers, and young adults to develop the essential social skills needed for making new connections, cultivating empathy, and maintaining healthy self-esteem in the real world.
When to worry about your child or teenager’s social skills
There are a few telltale signs that your child or teenager might need help with social skills. They may have difficulty making friends, be shy or withdrawn, or seem to lack empathy.
If you are worried about your child’s social skills, here are a few traits to look for.
1. Your child doesn’t seem to enjoy socializing with others.
2. They have trouble making friends.
3. They’re shy or withdrawn around other people.
4. They struggle to communicate effectively with others.
5. They frequently get into arguments with classmates or siblings.
How Can I Help My Teenager Develop Social Skills?
It can be difficult to watch your child struggle socially. But the good news is that there are still ways to overcome these modern day social struggles. So how can you help your son or daughter overcome social struggles in this new world?
Here are our top 5 suggestions.
1. Model healthy social interactions yourself.
One of the best things you can do to help your son or daughter overcome social struggles is to model healthy social interactions yourself. Show them how talking to the people around you is normal and helpful.
I remember when we took family trips, my dad would always start talking to the locals and staff members. I remember by the end of the day he would have gathered the best tips for restaurants and activities. I remember he even had one guy in Mexico end up happily driving us around all day to show us his hometown. We saw private beaches and met his family and friends. It was so fun and felt like we were visiting our own family.
Lead by example – have meaningful conversations, and be a good listener. By modeling healthy social behaviors, you’ll help your child or teenager learn the skills they need to be successful in most social situations.
2. Encourage them to get involved in extracurricular activities, such as clubs, sports, or music lessons.
This can help them make new friends and build confidence. It doesn’t matter what activity it is as long as it involves others. Find what they love and support it.
Always emphasize that the most important part is working well with others. The bigger game of life is not winning games but getting invited to more games.
3. Help them to understand and express their emotions.
A big part of social interactions is understanding and expressing emotions. If your child or teen is struggling in this area, there are a few things you can do to help. First, provide them with a safe space to express their emotions. This could be done through journaling, art, or simply talking to you. Second, help them to label their emotions. This will make it easier for them to understand and express what they’re feeling. Finally, teach them how to regulate their emotions. This includes both positive and negative emotions.
When it comes to our emotions, most of us would like to think that we have a handle on them. We like to think that we can understand and express them in a way that is both logical and beneficial to our lives. However, when it comes down to it, most of us struggle with this at some point or another. This is especially true when it comes to our children and teenagers. They are constantly going through so many changes and experiences – some good, some bad – that it can be difficult for teens to understand themselves, what’s going on in their minds, and how to express what they feel.
By teaching your child how to understand and express their emotions, you’ll help them to be more successful in social interactions. Help them to understand that everyone experiences different emotions in different ways and that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel something. Encourage them to talk about their feelings, both good and bad. And most importantly, listen to them.
Another thing you can do is help your child or teenager identify their emotions through facial expressions and body language. If they can learn how to read these signals, they will be better able to understand and express their own emotions. Body language is something we focus on at Jaunty.
4. Teach your child or teenager social skills and etiquette.
Teaching social skills and etiquette to a child or teenager can seem daunting, but it is important for their overall development. There are many things that you can do to help your child learn these skills.
One of the most important things is to role model good social skills yourself. Be aware of your body language and how you are speaking to others. Encourage your child to ask questions about social interactions, and give them honest answers. Show them how to apologize if they make a mistake.
Teach them how to accept praise graciously and how to avoid negative behaviors that could limit their social life, like compliment fishing. You can also help your child practice their social skills by setting up mock situations and breaking down how conversations and body language work.
Role-playing has helped thousands of people here at Jaunty. Then push that over into the real world. Have them introduce themselves to a stranger, or ask someone for directions. Help them learn how to carry on a conversation, and give them feedback on their interactions.
It is also important to teach your child or teenager about proper etiquette. This includes things like table manners, making introductions, and writing thank-you notes.
Teaching your child social skills and etiquette, you are giving them the tools they need to succeed in life. They will be better able to form social relationships with others and will be more likely to achieve their goals.
5. Teach them empathy so they understand and accept that everyone is different
In order to raise a well-rounded and cultured child or teenager, it is important to teach them that everyone is different and that this is a good thing. It is also important to teach them how to socialize with people from all walks of life. This can be done by exposing them to different cultures and teaching them the importance of being respectful and understanding toward others. It is also important for children to learn about social cues and how to navigate social situations. This can be done through role-playing and simulations, and you will help them become more confident and well-rounded individuals.
What Social Skills Does A Teenager With Autism Spectrum Disorder Need To Know?
1. Making Eye Contact
Making eye contact is one of the most important aspects of communication. It shows that you are interested in what the other person has to say and also conveys your confidence.
2. Reciprocal Conversation Skills
To have a successful conversation, it is important to take turns speaking and listening. This means that you should not only wait for your turn to speak but also actively listen to what the other person is saying.
3. Active Listening Skills
Active listening is a key communication skill that involves paying attention to what the other person is saying, as well as understanding and responding to their nonverbal cues.
4. Reading Body Language and Emotional Intelligence
In addition to making eye contact and actively listening, it is also important to be aware of the other person’s body language. This can give you clues about their emotional state and help you to respond accordingly.
4. Showing Empathy
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It is a key communication skill that can help to build strong relationships. You can show empathy by listening attentively, using facial expressions and body language that show you are interested and understanding, and by responding with words that reflect the other person’s feelings.
6. Avoiding Assumptions
When communicating with others, it is important to avoid making assumptions about what they are thinking or feeling. Instead, try to ask questions and clarify what they mean.
7. Building Trustworthy Relationships
Trustworthy relationships are built on communication skills such as honesty, respect, and empathy. These relationships are important in both our personal and professional lives.
8. Managing Conflict and Assertiveness Skills
Conflict is a natural part of any relationship, but it doesn’t have to be negative. It can be an opportunity to resolve differences and build a stronger relationship. To do this, it is important to manage conflict constructively. This means using assertiveness skills such as active listening and communication, as well as being respectful of the other person’s opinion.
Encourage And Support Your Teenager In Developing Social Skills
It is important to remember that there is no one “right” way to raise a well-rounded and cultured child or teenager. Every family is different, and every child is different. What works for one family may not work for another.
The most important thing is to be patient, flexible, and open-minded. Exposing your kids to different cultures and showing them the importance of empathy and respect, you will help them become more tolerant and understanding individuals.
You are also giving them the skills they need to socialize with people from all walks of life. This will help them succeed in life both professionally and personally. We hope that these tips have been helpful for you and that you will continue to seek out resources to help you raise a confident and compassionate child. Learn more about how social skills training can help your teen thrive.