Inside: Social skills activities and resources to help teach children valuable social skills.
Social skills activities are wonderful for teaching kids social skills. When kids develop social skills, they are better able to get along with others.
Social skills are the means by which people can make connections to others, exchange information and ideas, make their needs and desires known, and enter into and maintain relationships with other people (Taylor, Richards, and Brady, 2005).
Some kids are good at understanding and displaying effective social skills. They are usually popular, outgoing, and know how to engage with other people effortlessly.
Then there are those children who are shy, don’t talk much, and are more reserved. They may get anxious when they interact with others, especially in unfamiliar territory.
Additionally, kids on the Autism spectrum also struggle with social skills deficits.
Social skills activities give kids an opportunity to learn and practice social skills in a non-threatening way. Since these activities are fun it’s an easy buy in for kids
Why We Need Social Skills
Social skills allow us to interact and communicate with others. These skills include verbal and non-verbal communication, such as gestures, facial expression, body language, and personal appearance. People who are socially competent are able to:
- Show empathy for others
- Participate in group activities
- Be generous
- Be helpful
- Communicate effectively with others
- Problem solve and negotiate
A person with strong social skills knows how to behave in social situations and understand both verbal and non-verbal cues when communicating with others.
Social Skills Needed For Success
Based on two decades of classroom research and surveys from 8,000 elementary school teachers, researchers from Vanderbuilt University identified ten social skills kids need to develop in order to be successful in school: Their research findings indicate that children benefit greatly when they know how to:
1. Listen to others
2. Follow the steps /Follow directions
3. Follow the rules
4. Ignore distractions
5. Ask for help
6. Take turns when talking to others
7. Get along with others
8. Stay calm with others
9. Be responsible for their behavior
10. Do nice things for others
Benefits of Learning Social Skills
There are numerous benefits to being socially competent. According to Lynch & Simpson, “the development of social skills lays a critical foundation for later academic achievement as well as work-related skills.
Families and schools that create an environment which reinforces social competency, allow children a greater opportunity to have positive short and long-term success. When kids learn effective social skills they:
- Develop a positive attitude about themselves and others
- Communicate better with others
- Develop more self-control and are better able to manage their behaviors and emotions
- Manage conflicts more effectively
- Learn to be empathetic and see other people’s perspective
Related article: 100+ Social Skills Activities For Preschoolers
Signs of Social Skills Deficits In Children
Social skills deficits can become a lifelong problem for children if not addressed early on. Therefore, it is important that we identify and address deficits as soon as possible. If a child has difficulties with social skills they might:
- Have trouble making and keeping friends
- Inconsistently make eye contact, look down at the ground, or they may stare at others
- Have difficulties taking turns during a conversation, talk over others, interrupt, or offer irrelevant
- input in a conversation
- Have inappropriate boundaries and don’t recognize people’s personal space
- Not understand the consequences of their actions.
- Struggle to use good manners
- Ask inappropriate questions
- Be rigid in their thinking and can’t see other people’s perspective
- Have trouble understanding sarcasm and take things literally
- Have difficulty reading body language and non-verbal cues
- Be unable to respond to teasing, anger, failure and disappointment appropriately
- Have difficulty asking for help
- Lacks empathy
- Come off as conceited, self-centered, and/or entitled
- Have a difficult time handling conflict
- Not be able to handle failure
How to Help Children Improve Social Skills
Developing social skills in children is all about teaching them to communicate effectively through verbal and non-verbal means. According to Ladd & Simpson, 2005, “teaching social skills can incorporate a number of techniques, including direct instruction, learning from peers, prevention of problem behaviors, and children’s books.”
Below are several resources that highlight different ways and resources you can use to help children learn how to interact with others in socially acceptable ways.
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Social Skills Activities
There are so many different activities you can utilize to help children develop their social skills.
Social Skills Activities: Minimum Prep, Maximun Fun by Everyday Speech
10 Engaging and Fun Social Skills Group Activities for Kids by Encourage Play
Social Skills Activities to Help Kids Who Are Bossy by Encourage Play
55 Kindness Activities for Kids by Kid’s Activities Blog
Social Skills Books
101 Books That Build Friendships, Communication, and Social Skills by Childhood 101
24 Fabulous Picture Books About Friendship by Teaching With Children’s Books
Books About Inclusion and Acceptance by A Day In Our Shoes
Books That Help Children Learn About Friendships by Imagination Soup
20 Top Books For Teaching Kids Manners by The Relaxed Homeschool
30 Anti-Bullying Books for Kids by Untrained Housewife
6 Dr, Suess Books for Teaching Kids Social Skills by iGame Mom
Self Regulation Picture Books by Teaching Elementary and Beyond
Children’s Books That Encourage Kindness by What We Do All Day
Social Stories For Social Skills
Social stories are a great way to help children understand what behaviors are expected of them. Below are a variety of free and paid social stories to help teach children social skills.
Playground Social Scripts Mini Flip books-by And Next Comes L
21 Social Story Templates and Apps by Meraki Lane
Receiving Gifts Social Script by And Next Comes L