Friday, March 21, 2008

Can Parents Teach Their Kids Social Skills?

Of course! Kids learn most of their social skills from their parents. Parents do this deliberately, for example, they teach their children to say please and thank you. Parents do this instinctively, by following all sorts of subtle rules regarding communication and interaction. Things like how long to pause before answering a question, or when to look someone in the eye. Usually, kids also pick up these rules instinctively.


Sometimes, however, everything does not go smoothly. Some kids really struggle in learning the basics of how to interact with others. Sometimes it’s due to  autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Kids with attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity can struggle because of their impulsiveness. For other kids it’s not because of a disorder, it’s just tough for them to figure these things out.


What should parents do when they are concerned about their child's social interactions? A two ended approach may be best. First, consult with your child’s pediatrician and teacher. Find out their recommendations. If a formal social skills group is suggested, your child will be able to learn from a professional. At the same time, parents should still try to become informed. The best social skills groups will only occur for a few hours, or fewer, a week. Kids are with their parents hours a day. Learn what you can about social skills so you too can help your child.