Social Skills

Adolescence is the period of developmental transition between childhood to adulthood, which accompanies a variety of changes in personality, as well as in physical, intellectual and social development. Evidence supports that having a stable relationship and open communication between the parents and the adolescents is the key to developing social competency in adolescents. 
 
Social skills can be fostered in individuals from childhood onwards, including specific behaviours such as smiling, making eye contact, asking and responding to questions, giving and acknowledging compliments during a social exchange, effective communication with peers, with school mates, and conflict resolution. These behaviours may result in positive social interactions and are often linked to positive developmental outcomes, including peer acceptance and academic success.
 
Adolescents, who face difficulties in adjusting to social groups, often appear uncomfortable in such social settings, and may show certain behaviours, such as:
 
  • Limited eye contact,
  • Disinterest in social interactions,
  • Difficulty in initiating social communication,
  • Difficulty in interpreting verbal and non-verbal social cues,
  • Inappropriate emotional responses,
  • Inadequate empathy.
 
Poor social skills may also impact an adolescent's academic performance. Parents may be a great source for the adolescents to acquire adequate social skills, thereby, encouraging adolescents to learn appropriate social behaviors leading to healthy and positive relationships with family and friends. Parents can contribute by:
 
  • Being a role model for forming and maintaining positive relationships with friends and family,
  • Listening to their adolescents and attending to them whenever they express the need to talk, 
  • Being open and explicit about their own feelings,
  • Offering suggestions on ways to handle situations at school and with friends,
  • Helping the adolescents to understand different points of view by describing feelings and having conversations about how other people might feel, as a way to develop empathy and enhance conflict resolution skills,
  • Helping develop conversation skills such as asking questions and listening to others,
  • Seeking help from trained professionals, this might help to assess the intensity of the situation and provide appropriate guidance. 

"Getting or giving anything is about social skills. The world is about being comfortable where you are and making people comfortable, and that's what social skills are." - Penelope Trunk