Does your preschooler struggle with greetings? Here you will learn why it's important to work on greetings with your preschooler and how to teach the skill effectively.
Some children are naturally outgoing and seek out other people to socialize with. Other children are reserved and struggle with socializing. Some children have a deficit in social and communication skills which hinders their ability to socialize with others. It may seem silly to think about teaching something as simple as greetings, but many preschool-age children do not have this skill mastered and benefit from systematic teaching approach to teach the social skills. Whether it's a result of a disability, personality, or anxiety, teaching greetings to preschoolers who do not have this skill may help them be more successful in increasing social skills and making friends.
Why Teach Greetings?
Knowing how to greet another person is part of societal rules. As humans, we are expected to be courteous and kind to others whether or not we know them. Children are also expected to respect authority. Something as simple as knowing how to greet another person respectfully helps a child acquire basic social skills.
How to Teach Greetings:
Greetings are something you will always have opportunities with as your child comes in contact with other people throughout the day. It is important to work on greetings outside of these times as well. I recommend using an evidence-based practice called, Social Skills Training (SST) to support a child in learning how to greet others. If SST is new to you, check out this step-by-step guide to teaching social skills.
Things to Consider When Teaching Greetings:
Variation - When teaching a child how to greet it's important to teach a variety of natural responses. Think about it, when you greet someone, it's not always the same. It may vary from, waving, hugging, saying, "Hi", "Hey", "How's it going?" "Hey (name)" or just smiling. Now think about what is appropriate for a preschooler. It's probably most appropriate to teach waving, "Hi" and "Hi (name)".
Role Play - Part of SST involves role play. Set up opportunities for your child to practice greeting the right way in a structured setting (not just when it's actually time to greet someone). Then you want to allow opportunities to practice in natural situations.
Responding vs. Initiating - There is a difference between initiating greetings and responding to greetings. We want children to be able to do both so you may need to work on initiating and responding as 2 separate skills. Below you will find a separate lesson plan for each.
Independence - Ultimately we want our children to greet on their own, without needing a reminder. Now, it's typical for a preschooler to still need a reminder to respond to a greeting or initiate a greeting with another person or friend, but they are at the age that they should be greeting independently some of the time.
Below you will find a simple lesson plan for teaching greetings. People tend to process visual information faster than auditory information (what is heard) so I encourage the use of the social narrative while teaching.
Thanks for reading! Check back for future posts on more social skills lessons!
Resources to support teaching greetings:
Guide to teaching social skills training
Responding to Greetings Lesson Plan
Initiating Greetings Lesson Plan