Learning social skills can be challenging for many children. This is especially true if they have social pragmatic goals in speech therapy. But there are ways to help kids learn social skills that are necessary in society, such as how to greet someone politely or what appropriate topics of conversation are at different times. Social pragmatic goals – speech therapy – will result in a more confident, social child who is able to better interact with others and successfully complete tasks on their own!
What are social skills and why do they matter
Social skills are the abilities we use to interact with other people. They can be divided into two categories: social cognition and social interaction. Social cognition includes things like understanding social cues, perspective taking, and theory of mind. Social interaction skills include things like greeting someone politely, having a conversation or conversation skills, or asking for help.
Both social cognitive and social interaction social skills are necessary for daily life. Children who lack social cognition may struggle with social cues like in a social situation, like knowing when to start or stop a conversation (or understand conversational turns), understanding what others might be feeling in certain situations, and ignoring other distractions while concentrating on someone else's words.
Children who don't have social interaction skills often find it difficult to initiate conversations or ask for help. They may not know how to socialize with friends or know how to go about social relationships, or understanding visual cues or facial expressions or verbal prompts, which can lead to social anxiety later on in life.
This description is spot on for my son when he was 6 years old. I didn't know what to do and I was stressed out trying to figure it out. I thought that if I started homeschooling him, giving him that one-on-one attention, that he'll do his work and excel in his academics. But this was sadly not the case.
It took years for me to finally seek a behavioral therapist. I thought maybe he had some sort of processing disorder, which turns out there are tons of different types of processing disorders, such as having a pragmatic language disorder!
He lacked the social skills needed to do school work or even follow simple directions. He made friends easily, though, when we went to the park (and still does). But the learning side of things….now that was a different story.
I researched a lot about this to try to help him in homeschool. Not only that but it was seriously wearing me down teaching him.
I found that social skills are learned over time through social interactions and patterns of reinforcement from the environment around them. This is one of the reasons I started homeschooling him. Because children who find these social norms reinforcing will be more likely to continue exhibiting those behaviors as they grow up!
If you're concerned that your child may be struggling with social skills, the best way to help them is by getting them evaluated by a speech-language pathologist and a possible treatment plan. A speech therapist will assess your child's social skills and develop interventions specifically tailored to their needs. The social skills that are missing or need improvement will be identified, and the best way to help them achieve social success in school, work, home life, etc. will also be determined. Speech therapists can provide feedback on your child's social interactions so you know what they're doing well at and where they may have room for improvement!
Why It's important to learn about your child's speech development
Social interaction and social communication skills are interrelated; language impacts social cognition, and social interactions can also impact language acquisition!
For example: If a young boy who has difficulty understanding social cues or gestural cues and tries to answer questions in class or in a school setting but isn't able to understand the teacher's questions, he may start to feel frustrated and stop participating in class altogether. This can impact his language development because he isn't getting the exposure to language that he needs in order to learn.
This happened to my son in first grade, right before we started homeschooling. He didn't understand what was being taught and didn't know how to go about learning, period. So he just stopped participating in class. It can crush your mama heart…I truly understand this all too well.
But, on the other hand, social interaction can also help improve language skills! If a child has difficulty with expressive language (ie. they have a hard time talking), social interaction with friends and family can provide a lot of opportunities for the child to practice their language skills – body language skills as well as social language skills.
About Goal Bank Social Skills
Social pragmatic goals speech therapy goes a step further. The skills goal bank was designed to provide you with a wide range of social goals that can be targeted in speech therapy. Some social goals include:
Making Friends: This goal bank includes social skills such as initiating and responding to social invitations, joining a group, playing cooperatively and more.
Problem Solving: This goal bank includes social skills such as sharing, taking turns, compromising and more.
Self-Control: This goal bank includes social skills such as following rules, taking responsibility, listening to social cues and more.
Communication: This goal bank includes social skills such as making requests, understanding authority figures, social language use and more.
For a full list of all the social goals, click here.
Speech therapy can help with social difficulties for your child.
Speech therapy can improve social skills in a number of ways. For one, it provides social interaction opportunities for children who are struggling with social cognition or social interactions! Therapy sessions are designed to provide useful practice time for these kinds of skills. But, social learning doesn't happen only during the speech session- children will learn by practicing their newly acquired social skills with their friends and family.
Speech therapists can help children learn social pragmatics – this is the ability to know how, when, where, and why to use language – as well as narrow down pragmatic language goals! This will play a big part in social success for any child later on down the road…and it's something we should all be helping our kids with!
One way to help improve social pragmatic skills is by modeling appropriate social behavior. This means that we, as parents, should be aware of our own social interactions and making sure we are setting a good example for our kids.
Parents can also work on teaching social skills at home and setting social skills goals. There are many great books and resources out there to help teach social skills, and your therapist can give you some ideas of what will work best for your child’s ability.
So, if you're feeling like something may be off with your child's social development, don't wait – go get them evaluated by a speech therapist! You won't regret it. 🙂
The benefits of speech therapy for children with social difficulties are vast. Some of these benefits include social interaction opportunities, social pragmatic skills development, and modeling appropriate social behavior.
Parents can also work on teaching social skills at home using resources like books and videos. If you're feeling concerned about your child's social development, don't hesitate to seek help from a speech therapist or get him tested with a child behavioral psychologist.
How can you help your child improve their social skills?
How can you help your child improve social skills? Here are some ideas:
- Modeling appropriate social behavior is a great way to teach social pragmatics. Make sure that the adults in the home are setting good examples for children by being aware of their own social interactions and how they use language, as well!
- Work on social skills at home with your child. There are many great books and resources available to help teach social skills. See below in the last section!
- Present a structured activity with common objects
- Get your child evaluated by a speech therapist. A therapist can provide social interaction opportunities for children who are struggling with social cognition or social interactions, as well as teaching social pragmatic skills!
- Set a good example for your child by being aware of your social interactions.
- Work on teaching social skills at home using resources like books and videos.
- Get your child evaluated by a speech therapist if you feel something may be off with their social development.
Tips on how parents can best support their child in homeschool, at home, and in public settings.
Here are a few tips on social skills to help you better support your child:
- Model appropriate social behavior. Make sure that you are setting a good example for your kids by being aware of your own social interactions and how you use language!
- Work on social skills at home with your child, using books and videos as resources.
- Be aware of social skills in a public and social setting and help your child navigate these situations.
- Set up a play date with another child who can help model appropriate social behavior or attend a homeschool co-op.
Resources for families who want to take steps toward improving their child’s social skills
There are great social skills resources that can help you improve your child’s social cognition and social interactions.
A few of the many resources are great books, DVDs, and videos available to help teach social skills. A few of my favorites are listed below:
- Book: Social Skills Activities for Kids: 50 Fun Exercises for Making Friends, Talking and Listening, and Understanding Social
- Website: Helping Children Develop Language for Thinking and Learning
- Website: Socialthinking.com – Social Thinking: Social Thinking & Me
- Book: Social Skills for Kids: From Making Friends and Problem Solving to Self-Control and Communication, 150+ Activities to Help Your Child Develop Essential Social Skills
- Book: Growing Friendships: A Kid's Guide to Making and Keeping Friends
- Book: Social Rules for Kids: The Top 100 Social Rules Kids Need To Succeed
|The Survival Guide for Kids With Behavior Challenges: How to Make Good Choices and Stay Out of Trouble (Survival Guides for Kids)||LEARN MORE ON AMAZON|
|The Feelings Activity Book for Children: 50 Activities to Identify, Understand, and Manage Your Feelings||LEARN MORE ON AMAZON|
|Social Skills Activities for Kids: 50 Fun Exercises for Making Friends, Talking and Listening, and Understanding Social Rules||LEARN MORE ON AMAZON|
|Feelings and Dealings: An Emotions and Empathy Card Game | Award-Winning | Therapy Games for Kids | Social and Emotional Skills Development | Feelings Flash Cards||LEARN MORE ON AMAZON|
|SkillEase Story Cues Skilled Sequence Cards, Speech Therapy Materials, Social Skills and Autism Game, Special Education Classroom, Sentence Building for Kids, Educational Problem Solving Game||LEARN MORE ON AMAZON|
|Head Rush - Social Skills Games and Therapy Games, A Game That Develops Mindfulness, Self Awareness, and Communication||LEARN MORE ON AMAZON|
Additional resources available are:
- Check out social skills groups for children in your local community.
- Attend homeschool co-ops that provide opportunities to develop social interaction with other kids in a safe and structured environment.
- Online social skills programs or tools like Super Duper Publications’ “Websites to Go: Friendship,” can be really helpful for children who struggle with social interactions and pragmatics.
- A therapist who specializes in social pragmatic goals speech therapy.
Remember that every child is different and will learn social skills at their own pace. Be patient and supportive!
On another note, If you're concerned that your child's social development isn't on track, don't hesitate to seek help from a speech therapist or get him tested with a child behavioral psychologist – like I did. A therapist can pinpoint what exactly is the issue and can direct solutions your way for improvement.
Use Social Pragmatic Goals Speech Therapy To Help Social Skills In Kids
Social skills are a crucial part of life. You can help your kids improve social skills and become more confident in everyday settings. The experience I had with my own son led me to share it here with you, so I hope that you found these tips useful! If you have any questions or would like to share your experience with other readers, please comment below! We'd love to hear from you!