How Can I Help My Child with Social Skills?

 Social skills

Are you ever amazed by the ease that other children demonstrate in navigating their social world when your own child struggles with simple social interactions? Do other children seem to have the ability to get along with everyone while your own child has difficulty maintaining even one or two friendships?  The differences that you are noticing come down to the presence and absence of social skills. 
 

What are Social Skills?

Social skills are the communication, problem-solving, decision making, self-management, and peer relation abilities that allow our children to initiate and maintain positive social relationships with others. Many children seem to develop these skills simply by watching others. However, many children need some extra help to succeed socially. 
 

Improving Social Skills

If your child is struggling socially getting help is important! In addition to developing and maintaining friendships, social competence is linked to peer acceptance, teacher acceptance, inclusion success, and post school success. Because social competence is not something that is usually taught explicitly children who need help developing their social skills can benefit from formal social skills training.
 

What is Social Skills Training?

Social skills training breaks down complex social behaviors into smaller steps that can be learned one at a time. For example, the process of inviting someone to play on the playground would be broken down into multiple steps (notice the other children at the playground, think about what game you want to play, choose someone to approach, etc.). Social Skills training often includes specific behavioral techniques including instruction, modeling, role-playing, shaping, feedback, and reinforcement of positive interactions.
 

How Can I Tell if My Child Has Problems with Social Skills?

Children who struggle with social skills may have trouble making friends and maintaining friendships. Children who need help developing their social skills demonstrate a variety of behaviors that can get in the way of social success:

  • Talks too much
  • Shares information in inappropriate ways
  • Relies on adults to get information
  • Doesn’t understand facial expressions
  • Is overly literal and doesn’t get riddles and sarcasm
  • Withdraws from conversations with peers
  • Prefers talking to adults rather than other kids
  • Has trouble taking turns
  • Interrupts or blurts out answers
  • Wants things immediately
  • Doesn’t give others the chance to speak
  • Is a poor listener and loses the point of what’s being said
  • Gives up easily on tasks, even in group activities
  • Constantly moves around and fidgets
  • Has little interest in social interactions
  • Goes off-topic or monopolizes conversations
  • Doesn’t adapt language to different situations or people
  • Doesn’t give background information when speaking to an unfamiliar person
  • Doesn’t know how to properly greet people, request information or gain attention
  • Is overly literal and doesn’t understand riddles and sarcasm
  • Has trouble understanding nonverbal communication
  • Has difficulty understanding things that aren't spelled out

Next Steps

If you are concerned about your child's social skills or have received a social communication disorder diagnosis for your child that you need support with Edgar Psychological can help.

Edgar Psychological offers a Social Thinking Group
 

Psychologists that Specialize in Social Skills

Vivian Houg has extensive experience providing treatment for children and adolescents who struggle with social skills.
 

References

Advameg, Inc. (2018 ). Social skills training. Retrieved from Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders: http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Social-skills-training.html

Patino, E. (2018). Understanding Your Child’s Trouble with Social Skills. Retrieved from Understood.org: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/social-skills-issues/understanding-childs-trouble-with-social-skills