Making friends is not always easy, especially for a child with a disability. Social skills are key to our children’s successful interactions with the world around them as well as the cultivation of their happiness and well-being. Friendships and peer interactions are an important part of building a child’s self-esteem. Since making friends doesn’t come naturally to everyone; it takes practice. You can help your child build their social skills with some practices at home! Here are a few routines you can try.
Practicing Social Skills
Practicing social interactions at home is a great way to reduce the stress of meeting new friends for the first time. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution; every child is different and interacts with others differently. Try some of these practices to see what resonates best with your child.
- Asking Questions. Learning how to ask questions is a great skill for a child to have for making new friends. When you can show that you are attentive and interested, new friends are likely to return the interest and friendliness. Pretend that you are a famous reporter who is interviewing your child about something she or he likes. Then, switch roles and have your child play reporter. This will help your child to learn how to think of interesting questions and engage in dialogue.
- Picture Cards. You can use flash cards that display faces with a range of expressions and postures with different body language to help your child learn how to gauge how their friends are feeling and reacting. This can help your child to interpret visual cues for when others are feeling happy, frustrated, sad, or bored. You can eventually try moving from flash cards to videos to see these cues being performed.
- Include Friends in Your Child’s Interests. Does your child have a special interest? You can take your child on outings based on their special interests and bring one of their friends or peers along. For example, if your child loves botany, you can take him or her to a flower show along with a friend to share the experience. It’s a good idea to talk to your child’s teacher and ask if there are any classmates who your child seems to connect with.
- Parallel Play. Some children are reluctant to interact with others. You can begin to engage your child’s social skills with parallel play: play alongside your child. If your child has a special interest, playing with a friend who also has the same interest can be a great way to foster friendship!
- Spring Camp. We are excited to offer Spring Camp from March 28 to April 1! Spring Camp is for children ages 6 to 14 of all abilities. This is a great way to foster social interaction in a safe and fun environment! Learn more by checking out our flyer.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center is a top therapy center serving families of children and adolescents with disabilities. Our team consists of the leading experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavior sciences. We offer intensive, hands-on therapy for children and adolescents as well as resources for families. We are real therapists helping real families with real issues. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, take a moment to fill out our quick questionnaire. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, call 202-561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or 301-577-4333 (Lanham office) or contact us via our website. Want to keep up with our latest news and blog posts? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.