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The Hood Magazine

Social Skills in School

Jun 27, 2016 10:45AM ● By Hood Magazine
By Amanda Barton and Darcie Knight, School Psychologists at LifeScape 


According to the National Association of School Psychologists, good social skills are necessary for successful functioning in life. Positive social skills allow us to learn what to say, how to make friends and connect with others, how to make good choices and behave in different social situations. The first step in helping your child is to identify what they can and cannot do. If the individual cannot do the skill, then they need specific instruction in the skill. If the individual can perform the skill but does not do so consistently or to an appropriate level, other factors such as opportunities to perform the skill and consequences for performing the skill should be examined.

For example, children who are experiencing shyness, navigating through the social world and developing these skills can be difficult. Parents can provide assistance with the development of healthy social interaction skills through the following ways:

  • Focus on naturally occurring opportunities to model, encourage, and reinforce appropriately demonstrated positive social interaction skills.
  • Model outgoing behavior by greeting others and engaging in conversations with others in front of your child. 
  • Talk about how you see your child feeling shy and tell them you feel that way sometimes too.
  • Offer talking points to help the child join others in play. For instance, offer a statement like, “I like to play with trucks, too.”
  • Set scenarios and role-play through them. First, model appropriate social interaction skills and then have your child practice with you as the other children. Provide feedback that points out positive behavior and offers suggestions to try, if needed.
  • Offer to have another child over to play to practice social interaction skills. Provide feedback to your child, in private, after the play date.

Studies have shown that children with disabilities tend to exhibit social skills deficits and behavior problems more than students without such disabilities. If your child has an identified disability or if your child’s social skills issues are impacting their education, contact school administration to seek assistance. Special services may be available for children with identified disabilities, such as autism, that could adversely impact school performance. These can be identified through specific, individualized evaluations conducted by specialists within the school system.
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