People will most likely continue arguing about the role of nature versus nurture forever, but certain life skills clearly benefit from both. Making friends is one such acquired talent.

Fortunately, diligent parenting techniques can cultivate healthy social behaviors in children. By showing them how to communicate, adults help kids master the art of getting along. Here are three vital tips on teaching children to enjoy engaging with others.

1. Converse Openly

Teachers and school counselors say that conversing with kids helps them get used to sharing their thoughts and opinions. Discussing ideas in an agreeable manner is vital to building any relationship, so conversational practice goes a long way.

It’s important to help children gain confidence by providing constructive feedback. Social skills and daily interactions are good topics for discussion as long as parents take the time to explain things in simple terms. Encouraging children to talk about their feelings concerning new relationships and interests could make them more willing to explore different modes of interaction.

2. Practice Friendship Skills

Openness is a critical aspect of friendship. Modern psychologists maintain that it’s important to teach children ways to signal their willingness to accept others without judgment.

Common courtesies, greetings, compliments and acts of kindness may seem like second nature to grownups. Children, however, aren’t born instinctively knowing these behaviors.

Some parents help their kids brainstorm and practice ways to greet others, offer praise and express liking through kind gestures, such as sharing. This process may make it easier for kids to overcome their fear of rejection. By helping their children hone their skills, parents can also put the kibosh on bad behaviors, like trying to buy friends with gifts or failing to respect other children’s preferences and personal space.

3. Provide Room for Socializing

Many parents feel tempted to step in and take the wheel to save their kids from painful experiences. This is a big no-no. Instead, the best strategy is to let them make mistakes in a safe space that gives them freedom to learn.

Plan and host informal social gatherings where children can interact. With younger kids, it may be helpful to provide subtle direction in the form of activities. As children grow increasingly comfortable with their own personalities, however, many gain the experience and confidence needed to make rewarding connections without as much prompting.

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