Working on Social Skills at Home

All parents want their kids to experience social success. Here are some strategies to help instill good social skills in your children.


Milestones are important to reflect upon because you have to know first what is age appropriate.

Social Skills Milestones

By one:

  • smiles spontaneously
  • responds differently to strangers than to familiar people
  • pays attention to own name
  • responds to no
  • copies simple actions of others

Between ages one and two:

  • recognizes self in mirror or picture
  • refers to self by name
  • plays by self; initiates own play
  • imitates adult behaviors in play
  • helps put things away

Between ages two and three:

  • plays near other children
  • watches other children; joins briefly in their play
  • defends own possessions
  • begins to play house
  • symbolically uses objects, self in play
  • participates in simple group activity
  • knows gender identity

Between ages three and four:

  • joins in play with other children; begins to interact
  • shares toys; takes turns with assistance
  • begins dramatic play, acting out whole scenes

Between ages four and five:

  • plays and interacts with other children
  • dramatic play is closer to reality, with attention paid to detail, time, and space
  • plays dress-up
  • shows interest in exploring sex differences

Between ages five and six:

  • chooses own friends
  • plays simple table games
  • plays competitive games
  • engages in cooperative play with other children involving group decisions, role assignments, fair play

Learning Disabilities Association of America (1999)


Improving Kids’ Social Skills

Parents Help to Encourage Social Success at Home, Too!

Social Skills for Children with ADHD


Great examples: Parents Promoting Emotional and Social Competence in Young Children

101 ways to teach social skills

Developing Social Emotional Intelligence in teens (13-18)

PBIS world resources

Social Skills e-book


 Empathy is a 21st century skill that our kids will need more and more of in order to make the most of their future. A lot of smart organizations, schools, and businesses are cultivating this skill set in their people. It helps people not only connect, but get to the deeper detailed aspects of issues. That empathetic connection gets to better outcomes.

Brené Brown on Empathy

A father told me a story the other day about how he was driving down the road with his son in the car and was cut off by another driver. He yelled out, “Hey Buddy watch your driving!” His son then said, “Dad what if they are just learning how to drive? Take it easy.” The Dad now with this new possibility found himself calm and move on from feeling angry.

My point is that we all deal with adversity, but how we filter that information can dramatically change your reaction. This boy showed his dad that showing empathy by considering the possibility that the driver who cut his dad off could be learning how to drive and be given some leeway. Seeing possibilities is liberating, try it!

Just a last thought about how to support empathy with your special little person. Some children at school who have a hard time working through social situations often time need social skills training. Here is a great worksheet to help with breaking down a social situation to make good decisions and more importantly a teachable moment for a student.

Click to access social-problem-solving-template.pdf

Expected verses Unexpected Behaviors

Perspective taking is really important for our kiddos building capacity in the area of social skills. Categorizing Expected verses Unexpected can be crucial to developing a filter when making a good choice verses and not so good choices.


Expected -Simple Map
Unexpected – Simple Map
Expected vs Unexpected – Sophisticated

Expected vs Unexpected Activity



1st Link

2nd Link

3rd Link