Social skills training for children teaches them how to interact in a complex social world. There are many social conventions that dictate how we engage and interact with others, but sometimes these can be difficult for children to grasp. More explicit instruction helps them to learn and apply these specific rules and behaviors. When kids do not have necessary social skills, they may have problems making and keeping friends, asking for help, taking turns, holding conversations and acting in appropriate ways.
Does my Child need Social Skills Help?
Kids develop social skills over time. It is okay if your preschooler does not always stay on topic or misses some nonverbal cues, but as they get older and you work with them, they should be improving. If your school-age child still struggles with taking turns or initiating conversation, or they push and hit in response to things they do not like, they may need some help with social skills.
A proper evaluation can help to determine your child’s strengths and areas of improvement and identify any social skills they may be having trouble with. At PediaPlex we use a collaborative approach that includes speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, and counselors to create a comprehensive plan that addresses your child’s individual needs. There may be multiple issues contributing to their social skills difficulties, and we want to make sure they are all addressed in a cohesive way.
Evidence-Based Social Skills Training at PediaPlex
At PediaPlex, we use evidence-based social skills training approaches. An individualized plan is developed to address your child’s specific needs. We meet them where they are at and build on skills that they have already learned while also implementing and reinforcing new ones.
Social Cognitive Therapy Approach
One such approach to social skills training is social cognitive therapy. This is based on social cognitive theory which says we learn by observing others within various contexts. Modeling is used to show your child the appropriate way to interact in different situations, and then they practice these strategies. A few examples are saying please and thank you, or holding eye contact when someone is speaking to them. As they observe these actions and the consequences, then practice them on their own, it becomes more automatic.
Individual and Group Treatment Options
Social skills training can occur as either individual or group treatment. As with all therapy at PediaPlex, social skills training starts through one-on-one therapy. Your child will work with the therapist on their own to begin building appropriate behaviors and responses. As they progress, they will be paired up with another child to participate as part of a social pair. Your child will be matched with another child who is around their same age or cognitive level. Both children get feedback as to their behavior and can see the results of their actions or words.
In social pairs, your child gets to practice what they have learned and is guided by a therapist to continue developing their skills. The children learn how to interact with each other more effectively and how to respond in different situations. It is beneficial for them to be working with a peer as these skills can then translate to school, home and other environments. Some of the life-long skills they are developing include:
- Greeting others
- Initiating conversation
- Holding a reciprocal conversation
- Sharing and taking turns
- Asking for help when needed
Through social skills training your child can learn how to better read and respond to body language and facial expressions, as well as to manage their own. They are taught social conventions that can make it easier to build friendships and feel more confident in social settings. Getting focused and directed practice can really help to reinforce positive skills.
Contact PediaPlex today to learn more about our collaborative, evidence-based approach to social skills training for children and how it can support your child’s growth and development, especially as they enter school.