Tips for Building Social Skills
The following are some suggestions for helping children form strong social skills and relationships:
- Read storybooks on topics that address friendships and social interaction and discuss the social components of successful interactions with others.
- Identify areas of social difficulty exhibited by the child and role-play how to handle situations requiring such skills.
- Discuss situations that occur in everyday life—such as a conversation with a supermarket cashier, or the dialogue, facial expressions and body language between two actors on a television program.
- Present the child with an opening vignette involving a social situation, and ask the child to provide an ending. Afterward, discuss the child's input and other possible endings.
- Enroll the child in activities outside his known social circle if he feels unpopular in his regular setting. Allowing a child to start anew will give him or her an opportunity to confidently practice new social skills.
The following are some suggestions for establishing and maintaining strong social skills and relationships:
- Be aware of the personal space of others and learn not to invade it.
- Practice making eye contact during conversations.
- Keep tabs on conversations, making sure not to monopolize the discussion.
- Commit important dates, information and tasks to written calendars and lists to avoid disappointing others and giving an impression of not caring.
- Ask family and friends to point out inappropriate social conduct and discuss ways to effect change.
- Use visual cues—such as a piece of everyday jewelry—as a reminder to engage in social skills that require conscious effort.
- Think twice before speaking to avoid inappropriate comments.
- Manage stress by:
- setting aside personal time to rejuvenate and regain emotional control;
- maintaining healthy sleep habits;
- eating a balanced, nutritious diet;
- engaging in daily exercise;
- practicing how to interact in various social situations, either by yourself or with someone else;
- utilizing verbal "placeholders," such as "how interesting," when stress prohibits more detailed conversation.
Adapted From "It's About More than Learning: How Learning Disabilities Affect Social Skills and Relationships" LD News, November, 2002.
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Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. © 1999-2009 National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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