How to Build Social Skills


One of the most common things that parents call a Littleton child behavior psychologist about is helping their child to develop and strengthen their social skills. While social skill development can be a challenge for any child, these skills can be particularly challenging for kids with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, or communication disorders. No matter what challenges your child may or may not face, building strong social skills can help him to succeed throughout his life. Read on to find out some starter tips for social skills development.

What are social skills?

Social skills are the processes that we use to socialize and communicate with others. This can include meeting and greeting, building friendships, communicating effectively, being assertive, resisting peer pressure, and handling conflict, among many other skills. Social skills often develop naturally, but some kids (and adults!) have a harder time with them than others.

How do I promote social skills?

A great way to help your child build social skills is to expose her to a variety of social situations throughout her life. This can involve meeting with friends, family, or neighbors, engaging in group activities, or joining clubs. Think about it: if you spent your life staying inside your house, only engaging with mom and dad or a few siblings, you might not learn the flexibility and communication that will help you in the wider world. It’s never too early—start bringing your child out as an infant to expose her to all sorts of different cultures and people.

Why do some children have a hard time with social skills?

A large number of factors play a role in social skill development. A child must have a good grasp of language, both verbal and nonverbal, the ability to control his or her behaviors, and the ability to take the perspective of another child. In some cases, these core processes are unsettled by things like distractibility or hyperactivity with ADHD, difficulty reading nonverbal language such as with Autism spectrum disorders, or inhibited by anxiety or depression. Some kids don’t have a diagnosis, but just aren’t as strong in social skills—though they might do great in other areas of intelligence and functioning. Some kids just don’t have a lot of social exposure.

My child isn’t getting it!

If you’ve taken plenty of steps to promote social skills development in your child and they just don’t seem to be working, it can help to work with a professional. In an individual or group setting, a psychologist in Littleton can help your child to understand how to engage in a “give and take” relationship with others, communicate feelings and needs clearly and respectfully, engage assertively with others, and build strong friendships. Dr. Steve Lazarus has helped many children to develop the social skills needed for success in life, and regularly runs groups that can help build these skills as well.