Kids who have social skills issues can have a hard time making friends and fitting in at school. You may not know yet what’s behind your child’s struggles. But there are many things you and professionals who work with her can do to help your child develop stronger social skills. Here’s an overview of the kinds of treatments and therapies that can benefit kids with social skills issues.
Are there medications to help kids with social skills issues?
There are no medications that improve social skills. But there are very effective medications for some of the problems that can occur with social skills issues.
If your child has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), her doctor has many good medication options to choose from. There are also many effective medications for anxiety and depression. Those mental health problems are fairly common in kids with learning and attention issues.
Using medication to treat some of these related problems won’t directly improve your child’s social skills. But it can make it easier for her to focus on building them.
What types of therapy and intervention can help kids with social skills issues?
Therapists and speech-language specialists can help your child develop some of the social skills she doesn’t naturally have. They do this through a few different approaches.
Cognitive behavioral therapy: The therapist can work with your child to find ways to be less anxious in social situations. One goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to make your child more aware of how her thinking and mood affect the way she interacts with other people. A therapist can teach your child specific social skills and role-play with your child to practice those skills.
Speech therapy: A speech therapist can help your child learn the rules of how conversation works. They may work together on taking turns and sticking to a topic. Your child may also work on changing the way she talks when she’s speaking to different types of people (friends versus parents, for example).
Social skills groups: Social skills groups often pair kids up so they can learn and model good social behaviors to the rest of the group. Some of the skills they might work on include:
- Matching their facial expression and mood to the person they’re talking to
- Predicting what might happen in certain situations
- Coming up with new ways to approach trouble spots
- Figuring out ahead of time what they want to happen in a situation
What educational strategies can help kids with social skills issues?
Therapy isn’t the only way to help kids with social skills issues. There are also interventions, or strategies, that can be used in school or at home.
Cognitive behavioral intervention (CBI) is an approach that schools use. It helps kids figure out what went wrong in social interactions and come up with possible solutions.
Social thinking teaches kids to think about the ripple effects of their behavior. For instance, if your child stands too close to someone when she talks, that person might move away. And that may make your child feel bad or angry. This approach teaches kids more “expected” ways to act and react.
Positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) is a program some schools use to make sure all kids are taught the social skills they need and are praised for using them well.
What else can help kids with social skills issues?
Not all kids with social issues struggle with the same skills. So what helps will vary from child to child. The more you learn about this issue, the more you’ll be able to support your child. Social skills are something your child will need to practice. You can play a big role in helping her put what she’s learned to good use!
Be sure to explore Parenting Coach for expert-approved tips on helping your child improve specific social skills.