Children's Development

How to use the Holidays to Teach Children Social Skills

holidays to teach children social skills

The holidays are when some of our best family memories are made. For many of us, the holidays mean a whirlwind of dinner parties, holiday shopping, house decorating, and gingerbread-cookie-baking. This can be a magical time for both children and adults, but it can also be stressful—particularly if your 5-year-old’s acting up while you’re attending a party.

What a bright time, it’s the right time…to help your child develop important social skills during the holidays! Read on to learn how your family can gracefully navigate any social event this holiday season.


Go over expected behavior before the event.

Thanksgiving parties, Christmas celebrations, Hanukkah dinners—all of these require certain etiquettes that children need to be reminded of. Take time to prepare your child before the event by walking them through the activities that will happen, and by clearly outlining what proper behavior looks like in those scenarios.

This will greatly reduce the anxiety your child may feel beforehand, and increase her sense of independence in the situation—resulting in a better time for all.


Let them help set up.

No, we’re not talking about having your toddler DJ the party. But when you give your child the opportunity to help set up for an event, you empower them. They’ll take more ownership of their role at the event—whether it’s setting out the silverware or helping sweep the floor—and will be more interested in the proceedings. Plus, they’ll learn new skills and have some time to bond with you. It’s a win-win for everyone.


Bring shareable toys.

It’s hard to walk into a party where you don’t know anyone—even for kids! Make it easy for your child to make new friends with other children by bringing toys that are portable and easily shareable with you to the event. If your kiddo doesn’t let go of toys easily, this is a great opportunity to teach a lesson about the value of sharing.

ECR4Kids’ Beginner Toddler Block Set is a great option for little ones (just take a few). Paper and stamps or markers and other art supplies make a great quiet activity for older kids.


Invite them to be generous.

The holidays are the perfect time for your child to experience the joy of gift-giving! Invite your child to help you organize your home for the holidays, and donate old coats, scarves, hats, and other no-longer-needed items in good condition to shelters in your neighborhood.

Going gift shopping? While it may be easier to do all the holiday shopping yourself, it’s important to involve your child in the process. Have them pick out gifts for others and help wrap them to place under the tree. If you’re sending holiday cards, have your child make some. (Hint: our KraftEdgers scissors for ages 4+ make fun borders on colorful construction paper!)


Pay attention to their energy levels.

What happens when you’re too tired or hungry? Well, if you’re like most of us, you’re probably not the life of the party! Kids are affected even more strongly by changes in their routine—such as a missed nap while waiting in line for Santa at the mall. You can avoid a lot of meltdowns with a few emergency snacks and sufficient rest!

On the flip side, if your child’s been cooped up all day without much exercise, you’ll want to make sure you do something active (like sledding!) before you head out that evening. Excess energy can be just as mischief-inducing in kids as exhaustion.

Use holiday themes to make learning activities fun.

On your downtime between parties, engage your child in holiday-themed learning activities!

“Learning activities” and “holidays” sound about as fun as a mother sneaking zucchini into chocolate chip cookies. In other words, usually, it’s an unwelcome prospect to kiddos during winter breaks. But if you read our post about educational fall activities for kids, you know that learning and fun don’t have to be in opposition to one another!

Expand your child’s literacy while reading one of your favorite holiday books, or have your child practice reading to you. Help your child write a script for a winter-themed puppet show. Place wrapped candy canes and other holiday treats into one of our Sand & Water tables, and have your child close their eyes and guess what they’ve discovered.


So there you have it—plenty of tools to help you and your child breeze through your next holiday gathering and have fun. Want to discover more ways to enjoy every season with your child? Sign up to follow our blog for more ideas, delivered straight to your inbox every week.


How to Use the Holidays to Teach Children Social Skills