Social Skills Games

Children love to play! Social skills games and activities are a great interactive way for children to learn how to get along with others and be a friend.

Fortunately, there are many of both that you can use to teach your child how to understand the social skills needed to make and keep friends.

Rehearse Skills

Try to anticipate the social skills needed in different situations. Rehearse how one would behave and act in the given situation. For example, if your child doesn’t know how to share, teach them. Model, play, and use social stories to show your child how to share.

Board Games

Board games are great social teachers because they require following rules, taking turns, cheering on another person, and sustaining attention. Learning to be a good winner and loser is another important part of any interaction.

Keep your expectations reasonable, but don’t allow your child to recreate the rules. Remember, they need to learn to follow the rules.

Life has rules (hmm, those social ones are a good example), and if we can learn to follow them, things usually work for the best.

There are some powerful tools out there in the form of light play! Our cognitive therapist frequently plays Furious Fred to work on both social skills and emotional control.

If their frustration tolerance is low, keep the game short, and practice with an adult before playing with another child. Once again, life gives us times when we are frustrated. We have to learn to deal with it without exploding.

For the older child, games that involve strategy help them to learn how planning can thinking ahead can help. There’s nothing like a game of checkers or chess to reinforce the stop and think action!

Practice Play Dates

Play dates are a great way to practice being a friend. Remember, being a friend may not be natural or easy for some kids.

At first, dates should be short to help facilitate success. One hour with a snack is a good start. You can gradually build the length of time as your child experiences confidence and success.

Open-ended afternoons can be hard because your child may not see an end in sight. Even though they may protest, they take comfort in knowing that there is an end. If sharing is their thing, they only have to share for so long.

Introduce a Variety of Friends

Sometimes the hardest part of being a friend is learning that everyone can be your friend. Some children feel that they can have ONLY one friend.

Because of lack of social skills, the friend they choose may be not be the best fit. Sometimes it can be a bully relationship.

Your challenge is to introduce your child to a variety of people and teach him or her that all kinds of people can be friends. When you meet someone new, you might wonder aloud why that person would make a great friend.

Be a Detective

Older children benefit from playing detective. When you are out in a group, look for clues to how people treat each other. Can you spot someone who is a good listener? How do you know that? You can look for examples of any social skill OR lack of skill.

Sometimes it’s interesting to see if your child can point out someone who is NOT sharing, or playing nicely, or listening. Discuss how that might make the other person feel.

Another big one to look for is examples of unwritten communication including body language, tone of voice, behavior, or the look in someone's eyes. Unwritten language can be tricky to interpret

What Are Other People Doing?

Often, ADHD children don’t pick up on the norms. Ask them what other people are doing. How are they dressed, playing, sitting, or waiting? These all provide clues as to how we should act.

When your child isn’t sure how to act in a particular situation, teach them to watch what other people are doing. These clues will help them to adjust their own behavior silently and usually with positive outcome.

Games are a great way to teach a myriad of social skills. The better your child understands all of the unwritten rules of relationships, the better his or her chances are of making and being a friend.