Relating to others is the act of being connected. Children who relate to others are comfortable in most social settings. They engage in conversation, offer input and opinions when asked, and are able to enter a pre-existing group with ease. In order to be skilled at understanding others, children must be able to understand their own emotions and know how to express those emotions in appropriate ways.

Language is a critical tool for relating to others. Words empower children to express themselves. Words allow children to have the ability to enter group play, to resolve a conflict, and to deal with sad or frightening experiences.

Empathy allows us to view a situation from someone else’s point of view. In order for a child to be able to relate to another person’s pleasure or pain, she must have experienced painful and pleasurable experiences.

Tolerance is accepting customs, behaviors, beliefs, and appearances that are different from our own. Children need interactions with others who are different in their abilities, appearance, and beliefs in order to become compassionate and accepting.

A Child Shows Skills in Relating to Others When…

A Child Who Relates to Others Understands These Words…

  • She identifies and appropriately expresses feelings.
  • He assesses the feelings of others.
  • She relates to the feelings, motives, and concerns of others.
  • He reads and responds to social cues.
  • She negotiates and resolves conflicts.
  • He knows the difference between feelings and actions.
  • She thinks creatively.
  • He acts cooperatively.
  • Communicate
  • Compromise
  • Cooperate
  • Different
  • Empathy
  • Feelings
  • Friend
  • Greet
  • Manners
  • Negotiate
  • Relationship/s
  • Share
  • Similar
  • Tolerance
  • Unique

What You Can Do to Boost a Child’s Skills in Relating to Others

Talk About Relating to Others

  • Read children’s books that provide a foundation for discussing feelings.
  • Ask open-ended questions during and after a story to encourage children to reflect.
  • Read books that relate to friendship.
  • Create scenarios describing accidents that might happen with another child.
  • Watch for a “teachable moment” to discuss empathy.
  • Read books with content that explicitly relates to empathy.
  • Talk about and teach tolerance.

Model Relating to Others

  • Pay attention to children’s facial expressions and body language.
  • Express your joy at having a variety of items to choose from.
  • Express your feelings when appropriate.
  • Show your sadness when someone is hurt or feeling sick.

Practice Relating to Others

  • When a child expresses an emotion, use the opportunity to teach about that emotion.
  • Show children photos of people who are expressing emotions and ask questions.
  • Sing songs about emotions.
  • Teach basic rules of politeness.
  • Teach children to greet each other in different languages.
  • Teach visual and verbal cues.
  • Teach strategies for negotiating and solving conflicts.
  • Teach empathy clearly and directly.
  • Plan interactions with people of all ages.
  • Teach children games that two or more children can play together.
  • Develop a vocabulary about emotions and actions.
  • Teach children about random acts of kindness.

Acknowledge Relating to Others

  • Comment on children’s friendships.
  • Notice children who display empathy and compassion.
  • Add your support to children who are cheering for or encouraging a friend.
  • Ask children to describe their problem-solving ideas.
  • Recognize children who help others.

Reflect on relating to Others

  • Ask children questions that encourage them to think about relationships.

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