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Posted on Aug 23, 2017 in Autism, Children, Counseling, Family, News, Social Skills, Therapists

Social Skills Strategies for Children

Why are social skills such a challenge?

Social skills can be a challenge for children because there are several components that go into socialization.  The following is a list of skills boys and girls utilize on a daily basis to socialize with others:

  • Theory of Mind refers to understanding that others have a different perspective or opinion than yours and recognizing others have feelings.
  • Executive functioning involves taking the initiative to make plans with others, following through on finishing tasks, organizing materials needed to carry out plans, remembering what others say to carry on a conversation and filtering  ones own thoughts before impulsively sharing everything.
  • Interest and motivation to socialize with others.
  • Reading and picking up on social cues by visually to paying attention to facial cues and body language of others.

What strategies are helpful to strengthen social skills?

  • Emotion recognition. Children need to be able to identify their own emotions. as well as others, in order to perform well in social situations.  Their skills can be strengthened by playing charades, pointing out how people feel and why when watching a movie or television show or when reading a favorite comic book
  • Emotion regulation. Children need to be able to manage their emotions in social situations regardless of their skill level.  This can be accomplished through calming exercises, recognizing how intense their feelings are and doing something about it.  Calm, relaxing activities work best for mild-moderate anxiety or anger.  Physical activities work best for high levels of anxiety and anger.
  • Technology. Headspace is an app that helps kids work on mediation and mindfulness by being more in the moment rather than being caught up in their emotions.
  • Breaking down social skills. It is helpful to break down individual skills into smaller steps so the child can focus on one skill at a time. Some of these might include utilizing the buddy system at school to help the child work a particular skill; developing a power card that represents a high interest character/person the child identifies with to help the child model the same prosocial behaviors their character or person also exhibits; and creating social stories that focuses on a specific skill

If you would like more information on how to promote positive social skills for your child or are looking for a social skills group, contact Dr. Jennifer Stafiej at Agor Behavioral Health Service at at 630-621-5824 or email