Triple P working to unlock “missing social skills” from the COVID generation
The Sector > COVID-19 > Triple P working to unlock “missing social skills” from the COVID generation

Triple P working to unlock “missing social skills” from the COVID generation

by Freya Lucas

February 23, 2023

Parenting support will be key to unlocking the “missing social skills” of the COVID-19 generation, Triple P has said, noting that the “ripple effects” of the pandemic continue to be felt by parents, educators, and carers, with basic childhood skills like sharing and getting on with others less present then they used to be. 


International Country Director Carol Markie-Dadds said the disruptions to children’s learning in the past few years continue to impact children’s social and emotional development, with parents and educators needing practical support and strategies to children to build self-regulation and social skills, including how to cope with emotions and show kindness and empathy.


“Research shows that when children develop the capacity to regulate their feelings and actions – stay calm under pressure – they are better able to cooperate with directions and get along with others,” Ms Markie-Dadds said.


“Our capacity to self-regulate is associated with lifelong outcomes including our physical and mental health, academic achievements, the quality of relationships we have with others, and our future employment and wealth,” she added.


“Children aren’t born with self-regulation and social skills, and not all children develop them at the same rate or age, or with the same level of success. The great news is that parents and carers can help children by modelling and teaching these skills, and giving their child opportunities to practise them at home, school and in the community.”


Parents and educators, she continued, should lead by example and show children how to cope with emotions, as well as how to be kind and empathetic to others. 


“If you praise children when you see them replaying these behaviours you’re bound to see more of it,” she added. 


Ms Markie-Dadds recommends the following tips for building children’s social skills: 


  • Model and talk about the positive behaviours you’d like a child to use. Help children learn by example by greeting others warmly, thanking others for their help, talking respectfully, or sharing a treat with a friend.


  • Encourage empathy by talking with children about how our behaviour impacts how others feel, and what they can do to make others feel good. For example, praise them when they invite another child to play.


  • Tune in to a child’s emotional state and notice the early signs of ‘big emotions’ before they escalate; help children to use their words to express how they’re feeling about the issue at hand by listening closely and naming the emotion they might be feeling. For example, “that looks really hard, you may be feeling frustrated”.


  • Play turn-taking games together to help children to learn about sharing, winning, and losing graciously, being patient, and getting along with others.


  • Narrate your own emotions honestly to show children how you cope with life’s ups and downs (“I’m going for a walk after my hard day”; “I’m feeling frustrated so I’m going to take some deep breaths”). Modelling how to regulate emotions helps children understand how to appropriately express and cope with their own feelings.


“As children get older and put these skills into practice, they’ll experience what we call an intrinsic reward – that warm inner glow, if you like – that comes from having shown things like kindness, empathy and generosity to others,” Ms Markie-Dadds explained.


The Triple P – Positive Parenting Program – is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care under the Parenting Education and Support Program.


Parents and carers can access free, easy-to-use, online parenting support 24/7 at 

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