Jayne’s Top 10 Takeaways:
- Start teaching social skills early and know that the skills change as the individual ages.
- Addressing behaviors is part of social skills development. If there is a challenging behavior, you want to replace the challenging behavior by teaching appropriate behavior.
- School is all social — all day long. I think that is why our children need breaks during the day.
- There are numerous aspects to developing social skills — from communication to turn-taking, to not always winning. Characteristics that can be challenging include a short attention span, understanding the game, and even the often-present anxiety.
- Allowing the opportunity to watch others interact or play a game is a very important tool in teaching our children. Remember they will mimic both the good and the bad.
- Direct instruction is often needed. For example, bathroom talk is not appropriate in social situations.
- Teach appropriate ways to say hi to people — high fives, knuckles, and “wat up”? You may have to teach who is appropriate to hug and when and where that is okay.
- If you use social stories, keep them positive.
- Role play or rehearse before an event that may be challenging — for example, accepting birthday presents (that they might not like), or going to a birthday party and watching someone else get presents.
- Volunteering is a good way to be social; it often works well when you pair your children with younger children or older people.
There are many aspects to teaching our children social skills and it can be challenging but I hope you find that you can have a lot of fun with it. Watching our children grow and develop their skills is a learning experience for both of you. Remember that your child is watching and listening to you, so be aware of your interactions with others.
Just as important, just like you need downtime after social events, your child probably does too!