Top 10 Do’s And Don’ts for Fostering Social Skills

Do . . .

1 . Watch your child in different social situations.  You’ll get a good idea of what his social skill strengths and weaknesses are.

2 . Make up a non-obvious “signal” between you and your child to use when your he or she should stop a certain behavior.  For example, you can agree that when he or she sees you scratching your elbow, it is time for him to let another child talk.

3 . Establish a rewards system with your child to reinforce and to celebrate every social achievement, no matter how small.

4 . Enroll your child in group activities, keeping his interest and abilities in mind.

5 . Constantly remind your child of basic social information; think of every car trip as a refresher course.

6 . Get all family members, particularly your child’s siblings, to help create a support system for your child.

7 . Make transitions easier for your child by making them non-abrupt; try to “wind down” one activity before another begins.

8 . Work on one social skill at a time with your child- overloading the child will just create stress.

9 . Teach your child empathy.  Encourage your child to be more understanding of other’s feelings.

10 . Use TV shows to teach valuable social skills by discussing choices made by the characters.



1.  Discourage your child from making friends with children who are a year or two younger than he is.  He may be seeking his current developmental level. By enjoying those friendships he or she will grow to enjoy friendships among his peers.

2.  Force your child to be in large groups, if he isn’t willing or able to be.  Raise the size of your child’s groups slowly, one child at a time.

3. Place your child in competitive situations.  Instead, place your emphasis, and your child’s, on enjoyment rather than winning.

4.  Assume that your child always understands your oral instructions just because he didn’t ask any questions.  Instead, ask him to repeat the instructions in his own words before beginning the task.

5. Scold your child when he tells you about social problems he has had.  He will refuse to talk to you about them again.  Instead, discuss other ways in which he might handle similar situations.

6.  Try to teach when you or your child are under a lot of stress.  Instead, approach the child when both you and your child are relaxed and receptive.

7. Look at praise as the only verbal reward.  Your sincere and genuine interest in the child may be the best reward he will receive.

8. Encourage the child to get rid of stress through pointless physical activity, like punching a pillow.  Instead, teach him to get rid of stress by  using an activity that has definable and observable goals  (shoot ten baskets, write a one-page letter).

9. Expect punishment to have a big impact  on your child’s social skill deficits.  Catching your child doing something right and giving him positive reinforcement will have a greater effect on your child’s social skills than all of the time-outs in the world.

10. Don’t hesitate to use punishment for behaviors that are dangerous to the child or to others.  Avoid numerous threats, avoid excessive attention while he is being punished, tell him why he is being punished, and never take away something that had been promised as reinforcement for positive behavior.



Categories: Social Skills & Fitting In
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