Gone are the days when your child simply played near other kids, with little interaction or social connection. As your 6-year-old moves into the grade school years, she is developing her first true friendships, improving her ability to share with others, understanding that her peers have their own perspectives and learning how to resolve conflicts in acceptable ways, according to PBS Parents. Help your child build these social skills through games that engage and educate.
Although your 6-year-old's friendships are still fairly superficial, he is extending his social circle and learning how to make new friends. Relationships at this stage typically revolve around proximity to another child, rather than close bonds or feelings, according to PBS Parents. Encourage this development by helping your child brainstorm qualities that he wants in a friend, pushing his thinking beyond, "He lives next door." Gather a group of kids or enlist the help of other family members to act out the qualities in a game of character charades. Another option is to make character cards, pasting a picture of each quality -- such as helping others -- to an index card. Add in other not-so-nice qualities and have your child sort and separate them into groups of good and bad character traits.
Sharing, Caring and Cooperation
As your child moves into kindergarten or grade school, you'll need to move past simple sharing activities such as handing a smaller child a toy. Help your 6-year-old transition to a higher level of social functioning by playing games that teach cooperation skills. For example, set up a game that encourages your child and her friends to create a block structure or other type of building together. This type of activity challenges 6-year-olds to share, cooperate and negotiate, according to Parenting Science. Split the kids into two teams and have each group work together to see which one can build the tallest tower faster or make the strongest structure.
Work It Out
Resolving conflicts is a key part of your child's development. Instead of rushing in to smooth a skirmish out, teach your 6-year-old how to handle a difference of opinions on his own. Try a planning game in which you set up a pretend scenario -- such as preparing for a birthday party or group outing -- that the children must negotiate. Glue photos of different aspects of the activities or events onto index cards for the children to choose from, suggests Parenting Science. Have the children sort the cards into what they want to and don't want to include, negotiating as they go along. Another option is to create a mock court when a conflict erupts. Have one child play the part of judge and ask the others to make their cases.
The older your child gets, the more likely it is that others will expect a higher level of socially acceptable behavior from him. Role-playing games provide a creative vehicle for helping your 6-year-old to practice social manners such as being a guest in someone else's home, having a two-way conversation or behaving well around grown-ups. For example, some young children struggle to not interrupt in the middle of someone else's conversation. Start a conversation with someone else. Tell your child that he can politely speak up when he thinks it's appropriate. If he interrupts while you're in the middle of a thought, he gets a red card. If he waits until you give him the opportunity to speak, he gets a green card. Getting three red cards will require him to start over and play again from the beginning. Three green cards means that he wins.