When most parents think of teaching their child good social skills they think of making sure their child learns to say “Please” and “Thank you.” Others may even add in that a child should offer a snack to their friends during play dates or teach them why it is appropriate to give everyone in class a birthday invitation and not to exclude anyone. All of which are great social skills to have. For every child.
But, for parents of children with an invisible disability – whether that is Autism, Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, or even Bipolar Disorder – we think of completely different challenges when we are faced with teaching our children social skills. We think of reciprocal language, sharing control during play, being flexible, and not monopolizing the conversation (that is assuming they even know how to start a conversation in the first place).
Knowing our children have these complex challenges with social skills makes teaching social skills just a part of a much larger problem. And, often our children’s social skill deficits are compounded by other challenges – such as attention issues, sensory issues, or a simple lack of interest. But that doesn’t change the fact that most of our kids want friends.
And they need help from us to make – and keep – friends.
So how do you go about helping boost your child’s social skills? Good question!
In our house we have tried many different ways to teach social skills, from the basic skills (ask someone to play with you), to the more complex (you have to respond to their question and ask another one), and the ones that have no explanation at all (how to fight ‘fair’). And over the years, I have boiled it down to those that work.
Here are 9 tips for boosting your child’s social skills:
1. Formal Classes: One of the most beneficial things I have done is take my oldest son to formal Social Skills classes. Ours were taught by a woman with her masters in social work, but many are led by other professionals (Speech Therapists, Educational Consultants, and counselors). At first I thought this was a waste and assumed I could do it on my own – I am social, I know what to do – but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The curriculum breaks down basic social situations into easy to learn, and easy to practice, lessons. From how to have host behavior and ways to share the control of play, to how to pick and keep friends, these step by step, straightforward lessons have been invaluable to us. …continue reading
I know most people mean well. People do not know what to say, or they feel compelled to try and make you feel better. Some are genuinely trying to be positive and others, well they