Healthy growing up: social competence

Social competence is often equaled with social skills. However, even though they have some common characteristics it is important to differentiate them: social skills refer to specific behaviors of the child (non-violent conflict resolution, assertiveness, etc.), while competence includes the ways in which a child, in interaction with others, uses these skills. Social competence includes the relationship towards oneself, identification, understanding and acceptance of own feelings, the ability to control own emotions, the relationship towards others, their feelings and needs. The capability to manage one’s own emotions implies the control of impulsive and inadequate behavior, and/or successful coping with unpleasant emotions (for example fear, anger).

A child is said to be socially competent if he/she has adopted prosocial behaviors (cooperation, helping, etc.), and certain skills that enable him/her to understand the environment, cope adequately with everyday situations, interaction with others and successful achieving of personal goals.

Social competence starts from the first day of life (interaction with the mother), it is developed during growing up and it manifests itself in different ways in different developmental stages. While growing up, a child gradually, in different ways, creates relationships with persons from his/her environment. The basis of social competence is the manner in which the relationship between parents and children develops: love, praise, acceptance, appreciation, supervision, care, encouragement, support, warmth, encouraging prosocial behavior and setting clear boundaries, lead to the building of a self-confident and self-aware child, satisfied and self-confident, who then approaches life’s challenges in a constructive way.

Apart from parents, kindergarten plays an important role in the development of social competences as a source of various forms of interaction and experiences. The relationship between children and educators is based on attachment theory and it is similar to the interactions that a child has with their mother. The role of an educator is multiple: they encourage development, provide emotional support, lead and manage, act as a mediator in establishing and maintaining peer relationships. As the child grows, the role of the educator changes. In the case of very young children, educators recognize and meet the child’s needs, while in the case of older children, they encourage peer relationships by various activities, which should not be neglected either. By growing up, peer relationship become more and more important, games become more and more complex, mutual interactions between children become richer, more complex games.

Our task is to support the development of social skills and competences, to provide own example of the type of behavior that we expect from children, and to create a safe, supportive atmosphere for the child in which they can explore and discover their environment and establish certain interactions with it.

Should you have additional questions, doubts or in case you need support, free services of the IPD psychological counseling center are at your disposal. You can contact us via a private message on our Facebook page “IPD Parent Advisor”, by e-mail address 📧 or phone call ☎️

This article was prepared within the project @RELOADWesternBalkans, financed by @eubih, and implemented by @UNDPBiH. The content of this article, as well as the findings presented in it, are the exclusive responsibility of the Institute for Population and Development and they do not reflect in any way the views of #EU, or #UNDP #ReLOaD #ReLOaDBiH #LocalDemocracy #WesternBalkans