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Learning Social Skills While in Lockdown

Medically reviewed by Jezreel Esguerra, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Nov 05, 2022

Learning Social Skills While in Lockdown

Childhood is a period in life where many important lessons and abilities are learned, including social skills training for kids. Social skills refer to the set of skills we need to interact and communicate with each other, including speech, body language, and facial expressions. Having these skills is an important part of socialization.

Social skills empower children with the knowledge of how to behave in various social settings. A child with well-developed social skills will also have healthy levels of emotional intelligence, as they learn abilities like empathy and patience through their interactions with others. Children with well-developed social skills might even have better success in life.1

Preschool and school are perhaps the most important environments in which social skills training occurs.2  However, the extended lockdown period due to the COVID-19 pandemic has affected some children’s social skills.3 Below, we identify some important social skills children usually learn in school or through interacting with others.

Social Skills Training: What Are the Skills Your Child Needs?

1. Sharing

The willingness and ability to share helps children make friends. However, young children – especially toddlers and preschoolers – are often reluctant to share with others. As children grow older and develop a sense of empathy and justice, they are more willing to share.

2. Listening

Listening is not simply staying silent while another person talks. It requires focus, absorbing information, and body language that indicates attention is being paid. Listening is also part of healthy, two-way conversations such as those that would happen between friends. When a child learns to really listen, it helps them develop their EQ (emotional quotient) and memory, as well as filter and store important facts from the information they’re listening to. This helps them both socially and academically, and through life.

 3. Following/Giving Instructions or Directions

As part of good social skills training for kids, learning how to give, listen to and follow instructions is important at home, in school, and in adult life. At home, this skill enables children to learn and successfully carry out age-appropriate chores after listening to your instructions. At preschool and school, taking direction related to an art and craft project, assignments, or how to improve their soccer or dance skills, will benefit your child’s learning, as will giving instructions to others as the leader of a group assignment. As adults, both following instructions and learning how to respectfully and clearly give direction to others will have benefits in both career and life in general. This social skill also requires the use of manners, especially when giving instructions.

4. Cooperating

Cooperating means the ability to work well in a team to achieve a common goal. A child who knows how to cooperate is often respectful of the needs and requests of others and a team player. They learn leadership as well as follower roles. It could be as simple as a group of preschoolers working together to build a city out of blocks, or a group of 10-year-old contributing to a group assignment together. In adult life, the ability to cooperate is a key skill required in most workplaces.

5. Emotional Regulation

When your child has face-to-face interaction with others, they learn how to control their “big” emotions that otherwise might get in the way of a fun activity or a more serious task. It involves self-control and impulse control, too. They also learn that their actions and emotions affect others.

Activities To Help Your Child Develop Social Skills While at Home

Given that your child cannot go to the places (preschool, school, friends’ homes, playgrounds) that usually teach social skills, here are some activities2,4 you can try out at home so that your child’s social skills are honed when it’s time to head back outside.

  • Read to your child. This seemingly simple activity teaches children how to listen, focus and remember. Stop reading from time to time and ask your child to talk about what they remember about the story so far.
  • Provide opportunities for connections. You could organize regular video calls with loved ones, encourage kids to write letters to their grandparents, or even speak to a neighbour over the fence or window (monitored by an adult, of course).

  • Assign age-appropriate chores. Even a toddler can “help” around the house by doing things like putting their toys back in the box, or passing you items. Older kids (based on their age) can wash dishes, sweep, fold the laundry and even cook a simple meal. Along with teaching children basic life skills, chores involve the child following instructions to carry out the task properly. Remember that making mistakes is part of the learning process and that younger children should only receive one or two instructions. Chores involving the whole family (e.g. cleaning the garden) can teach your little ones how to work in a team and cooperate with others, too.
  • Make good manners a habit. Make words like “please” and “thank you” common phrases in your household.
  • Play games like Simon Says or Duck, Duck, Goose. They’re not just a good source of physical activity but games like this require impulse-control and listening skills.
  • Do Show-and-Tell at home. Little ones will love to talk about their favorite toy or item, improving their communication skills in the process.
  • Have a consistent routine. Routines provide younger children with security and comfort as they learn what to expect next. And this can help with emotional regulation especially in toddlerhood. Just because they’re at home, don’t allow them to go to bed late or play video games for hours. Having a consistent bedtime and knocking off those devices allows little ones the rest they need to feel happy and refreshed. Tired and overstimulated children on the other hand experience big emotions that they may not be able to control.

Learn more about developing high IQ and EQ here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Jezreel Esguerra, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Nov 05, 2022

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