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Mental Health

Narrative

Cultivating social skills is a significant component of a child’s development and begins at an early age. Social skills include the ability to communicate and empathize with others and remain important throughout a child’s lifetime.

Parents of children aged 6-17 years were asked if their child had never, rarely, sometimes, usually, or always exhibited each of the following behaviors in the past month: showed respect for teachers and neighbors; got along well with other children; tried to understand other people’s feelings; and tried to resolve conflict with classmates, family, or friends. The prevalence of individual social skills varied greatly. Parents of over 90 percent of children reported that they usually or always showed respect for teachers and neighbors, and got along well with other children. In comparison, 75.3 percent of children were reported to have tried to understand other people’s feelings, and 68.9 percent were reported to have tried to resolve conflict with classmates, family, or friends. While most children displayed positive social skills to some degree, children were considered to consistently display social skills if parents responded “usually” or “always” to two or more of these questions. Overall, 93.6 percent of children were reported as having consistently exhibited two or more positive social skills.

The display of specific social skills varied by the child’s sex. Among children aged 6-17 years, 72.5 percent of females tried to resolve conflicts with classmates, family, or friends compared to 65.4 percent of males; however, this behavior increased in both sexes with age.

Graphs

This image is described in the Data section.

children exhibiting social skills graph

This image is described in the Data section.

children who try to resolve conflicts graph

Data

Children Aged 6-17 Years Usually or Always Exhibiting Social Skills, by Type of Social Skill, 2007

Percent of Children:

  • Shows respect for teachers and neighbors: 93.7
  • Gets along well with other children: 90.4
  • Tries to understand other people’s feeling: 75.3
  • Tries to resolve conflict with classmates, family, or friends: 68.9

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. The National Survey of Children’s Health 2007. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2009.

Children Aged 6-17 Years Who Usually or Always Try to Resolve Conflicts,* by Age and Sex, 2007
Age Percent of Students
Total Male Female
*With classmates, family, or friends.
Source: Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Survey of Children’s Health. Unpublished data.
Total 68.9 65.4 72.5
6-11 Years 67.8 64.0 71.6
12-17 Years 70.0 66.8 73.4

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