7 Ways to Build Social Skills and Prevent Bullying

How building social skills can help kids avoid becoming targets of bullying

group of teens smiling and talking

Your child does not have to be popular to have solid social skills. But having good social skills can do a lot to enhance your teen's life. Not only will she feel confident and connected to others, being able to communicate thoughts and feelings is an important life skill. What's more, social skills also are a protective factor against bullying.

Strong social skills also help teens feel more comfortable dealing with difficult situations, including bullying.

They also are less likely to bully others, because they can navigate difficult situations without resorting to intimidation, manipulation and other bullying tactics. What’s more, studies have linked strong social skills with better academic achievement. Social skills also can impact a teen's future career and her relationships. Remember though, for some kids developing social skills takes time and some trial and error. Be patient and do not expect immediate changes. Here are seven tips for improving your child’s social skills.

Build Self-Esteem 

A solid self-esteem is at the root of a child’s social ability. If kids lack confidence, it is hard for them to take the risks needed in developing strong social skills. Start by developing your child’s self-esteem. Do everything you can to ensure your children can recognize their strengths and their weaknesses and feel good about who they are. Remember, self-esteem is a protective factor against bullying too.

Kids are less likely to pick on those who are self-confident and in control. 

Foster Friendships 

Healthy friendships are another protective factor when it comes to bullying. In fact, even just one friend can go a long way in bully-proofing your child. Bullies are less likely to target kids who have friends.

So, it is wise for you to help your child develop friendships, especially at a young age. To do this, schedule time with their friends. Get them involved in outside activities and talk about what constitutes healthy friendships.

Teach Assertiveness 

Believe it or not, being assertive is a crucial part of being strong socially. When kids are passive or compliant, they end up getting taken advantage of or bullied. Mean girls especially look for others who are not assertive. Teach your kids to express their thoughts and feelings. They also should realize that it is appropriate to stand up for their rights especially when it comes to bullying, relational aggression, cyberbullying, sexual bullying and other offensive behaviors.

Instill Respectfulness 

Kids should be taught that everyone deserves respect and that everyone has value. When they recognize this, they are not only less likely to bully others but also more likely to stand up against bullying behavior. What’s more, kids need to realize that if their friends are not treating them with respect, then their friends are bullies. Stress to your kids that everyone deserves respect, including them. They should not maintain relationships with people who are not respectful.

Cultivate Resiliency 

Kids are going to encounter bullying and conflict throughout their lives. Teaching them how to deal with issues and problems without letting it affect them is a valuable life skill. Resiliency also helps kids counteract the impact of bullying. What’s more, kids who are resilient can be honest about their feelings and communicate how they are feeling to others. It also helps them persevere when being bullied or facing difficulties.

Model Empathy 

Empathetic kids are usually socially-skilled kids. When kids can feel empathy for others, they are in tune with what others are feeling and often communicate care and concern.

To teach your kids empathy, be sure you are modeling the behavior at home. For instance, when you see a bullying situation, ask your child how that person might feel. If he struggles to tell you, prompt him with some ideas. Also, demonstrate care and concern for others by donating to the poor, volunteering at a food pantry and participating in other charitable activities.

Practice Problem Solving 

Perhaps the most crucial element of building social skills is developing a child’s ability to solve problems in a healthy way. To do this requires that your children know how to identify their feelings and manage their impulses. When these two characteristics are not present, kids can have trouble relating to others. Also, give your child tools for solving conflicts such as learning to collaborate and to anticipate consequences.

A Word From Verywell

Remember, building strong social skills in your kids will help protect them from bullying at school. Not only will they have the ability to communicate with other students and make friends, but they also are more likely to have the confidence and courage to tell a bully to stop if they are ever targeted.