Social skills are something that children develop over time. It starts when they are young and progresses as they become more involved in interacting with others. While it is recognized that children with autism spectrum disorder may struggle with appropriate social skills, other kids can too. Children may have trouble understanding non-verbal cues, taking turns during conversation, interpreting statements too literally, staying on topic, or initiating interactions at all.
This can be frustrating for children and adults alike. Kids want to fit in and make friends, but they don’t always know how to effectively do this. Adults want to see children building meaningful relationships and working well with others. Practicing social skills from an early age and reinforcing positive behavior can help children cope with challenges.
Start socializing: Schedule play dates or take your child to programs or events where they can interact with their peers. Get them used to being around other kids and practicing sharing, taking turns, following directions, and engaging in back-and-forth communication. Try to find common interests. Don’t worry if things don’t go perfectly – they’re still learning.
Be a positive role model: As your child plays with others and watches your interactions with others, be a positive role model. Demonstrate acceptable behaviors and provide guidance and prompting as necessary. Show them how to play nicely and remind them to wait until someone is finished talking or to say please and thank you.
Role play: Practice different scenarios with your child and talk about how they could respond in certain situations. Then give them the chance to try out different strategies by role playing that they’re happening. Help your child to find what works best for them.
Engage in therapy: Speech therapy can help children improve their social skills and communication. The therapist can work with them on better understanding how conversations work, reading body language, and engaging in appropriate communication. Participating in social skills groups can also be beneficial. This can help children to work on social skills with peers and adults, come up with strategies for coping with different situations, and practicing what they have learned.
Keep in mind that change takes time. Children learn at their own pace and must work on implementing what they have been taught. Provide regular praise and encouragement when you see that they are doing a good job, and give gentle prompts or reminders when they need extra help. Be aware of your own interactions as well because children are always absorbing information from what is happening around them. Even if you don’t think they’re watching or listening, they probably are.
PediaPlex offers a wide range of services to meet your child’s individual needs. Through one-on-one and group treatment options, children can work on developing more appropriate social skills and strategies that they can use for the rest of their lives.
Does your child struggle interacting with others? PediaPlex offers a variety of services to support their development.