‘No man is an Island’ is a saying used to mean that people are sociable creatures who need to interact with others so that they can attain physical, spiritual and mental well-being. So, children need to be taught how to have healthy and positive friendships.
Teaching children about social skills requires a lot of patience, support, and love because children have different levels of learning. This helps to ensure that every child enjoys their journey toward developing a meaningful and lasting friendship. Children also learn from each other how to be good friends and tend to become more self-confident.
“By teaching your child one new skill at a time and practicing it over and over until she can use it on her own, you can help your child make new friends and improve her social confidence” – Sherri Oden and Steven Asher.
The “Why Zombies Do Not Have Friends” Activity
The Zombie activity is a lesson used to teach children living in shelter homes how to build great friendship skills. Children are taught about the not so good pragmatic traits of zombies that push people away, which include biting, chasing people away, poor hygiene, eating people, among other traits.
In this activity, children are guided into drawing and describing themselves as zombies. The kids then share their drawings with their classmates, and one observation is that using zombies is very applicable and enjoyable and that the children become very excited about displaying their ghost images.
They get to learn and realize that zombies are lonely, they do not interact, they do not have friends, and that they do not need to behave like zombies.
- A flip chart for each participant.
- Pencils, pens, crayons or markers/felt pens
Helping Children to Rethink and Maintain Their Friendship Skills
The children are taught how to rethink and change their bad behaviors when interacting with friends, as well as how to maintain their friendship skills. This is achieved by engaging them in a reflective process regarding how zombies behave, where they get to learn about their negative social behaviors that are zombie-like. They also learn that they are the ones in control of how they behave or act in their interactions with others.
The children are encouraged and supported in making decisions and good choices regarding good friendship qualities that they need to adopt in order to maintain healthy relationships with peers. Besides, the children learn how to be a good friend by talking to them about the benefits of using kind words, having good values, attitudes and skills, respecting others and been there for their friends, as well as having good hygiene, among other skills.
Learning and practicing social skills becomes enjoyable and rewarding if it takes place in an environment that takes care of all these children’s interests and experiences.
Imparting Social Skills in Children
Social skills tend to lessen the chances for negative interactions. A key strategy for strengthening social skills is engaging the kids in a brainstorming exercise where they get to come up with behavior traits of good friends and what good friends do.
Below are some of the friend qualities from the kids:
- Helping people
- Respecting people
- What we say, we must do it
- Speaking good and kind words
- Don’t lie
- Don’t show faces
- We must be kind
- When we go anywhere we must go together
- Play with a friend
- Must be happy with a friend
Friendship does not always come naturally and it is our belief that teaching these kids about being a good friend at an early age will help them learn and practice these social skills, as well as prompt, remind and encourage them to build friendships that are healthy, positive and long-lasting.
If you have more ideas and activities that we can use to teach these children how to build meaningful relationships and friendship skills, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments section.