Fun Social Activities that Won’t Feel Like Work

Parents always ask me what to work on at home, so I decided to list some social skills activities that are simple, fun and can be worked into everyday situations. You can practice all of these skills in lots of different settings. If you’re working on greetings, say hello at the supermarket, playground, and anywhere else you go in your day. The more places the kids use their skills the better!

1. Video your kids with your phone or iPad

Record your kids performing a particular skill, and let them watch the video to reinforce the skill.  Most kids love to watch themselves on video!

2. Watch TV and talk about the characters

Your kids’ favorite shows can lead to great teaching moments and discussions about emotions, how other people act, how people react, and can help tackle difficult concepts such as opinions, point of view, and perspective.  Discuss how their favorite characters feel and have the kids describe what are they going through.

3. Role Play!

If your child is having a hard time understanding a situation, event, or conflict, have them act it out with you or a sibling. Letting kids role play helps them understand how others feel and why they act the way they do.  Be sure to relate the role play back to a similar situation the child went through.

4. Play Charades

Similar to role playing, Charades can work on many different skills. Nonverbal communication, vocabulary, eye contact, understanding another’s intent, turn taking, and listening to others, among many others.  This is a great game to make as fun and silly as you want!

5. Play Your Child’s Favorite Board Game

Tons of social skills are embedded into simply playing games. Use games to address turn taking, communicating with others, winning and losing, or following the rules.

6. Pick a Topic to Have a Conversation About

Set a timer, and let the child talk about a favorite topic of theirs for a certain amount of time (we can talk about trains for 3 minutes).  After that, pick another topic that you might be interested in, and your child is less interested in.  This will help them practice staying on topic and will help them understand that they can’t always talk about their favorite things.

7.  Use Self Control Visuals

Use a color coded scale or a stoplight picture to let your child rate themselves (How am I feeling? A green for happy, yellow for a little anxious or upset, red for very upset).  This is a helpful way to get children to self monitor, and is a hard skill to develop the more practice the child has, the better.  It’s also really flexible, so you can use this method to rate tons of different concepts, such as: feelings, how loud their voices are, personal space, and levels of formality. Be sure to have this tool readily available (keep it in your purse, hang it in the playroom), because these little moments pop up all day long.

8. Get Out Into the Community

As I mentioned before, practice these skills in many different settings.  Plan a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts, school events, and playgrounds.  Anywhere and everywhere you go will broaden your child’s experiences and allow them to use their learned skills in different places!

Maintaining continuity between school and home is important, so with all of these activities,  be sure to use the same language as your child’s teacher or therapist.  For example, I use “expected” and “unexpected” often when describing reactions to different scenarios. Getting those key words right will go a long way towards your child’s understanding of different concepts.

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