If you're stuck for ideas over the school holidays, why not spend some time helping your kids develop their social skills? It could have important benefits for their confidence and emotional well-being.
During term time it's all too easy for parents to get bogged down with trying to support their kids' educational activities on top of everything else required of them.
But school holidays offer an opportunity to focus on your children's social and emotional techniques, as well as their intellectual abilities, in preparation for the challenges they will face at school and throughout their working lives.
The current emphasis in the workplace is on what's being termed 'social intelligence', with companies actively seeking skills like sociability, empathy, self-awareness and resilience.
How parents can help
First, always take a positive approach to your children's social skills, letting them know that these can easily be learnt and that, just like any other skill, they involve a mix of discovery, discussion and practice.
You can help by ensuring that you don't label your child in terms of his/her sociability. When a parent refers to a child as 'shy', 'quiet' or 'sensitive', they can unwittingly create a self-belief that can last a lifetime, as kids will often perceive shyness or lack of confidence as personality traits that are fixed rather than changeable.
Subtly noting your child's individual behaviours, looking at their approach to friends, relatives and new social groups or situations, can help you identify behaviours that you could help with.
You might also like to monitor your own behaviours in the same situations, as they can often be over-compensatory. For example, you could be chatting to fill the gaps when your child is quiet or even apologising for your child's behaviour, rather than allowing them to manage and work their way through what might be any initial discomfort.