Social Distancing and Social Skills seem like polar opposites. The former asks us to keep our space while the latter is about the ability to communicate and interact with others.
But even as we distance ourselves we are still interacting, just in a different way. Classes were moved online but kids still need to know how to take turns and stay on topic and visits to loved ones may be from between a glass door which means we need a good handle on reading facial expressions.
So how do we continue to help children develop these skills? The tips below can help you to work on these skills safely while you are social distancing at home. We recommend sharing these tips & the attached downloadable with parents this summer!
1. Get creative. Virtual snack times can be a lot of fun and are a great way to continue working on these skills while maintaining a safe distance. Invite classmates, family members or friends to a set meeting online and talk away as you have a yummy meal.
2. Bring back game night. Board games tackle so many social skills. Things like turn taking and being a good sport are just a few. So if this is something your child has trouble with talk about it before hand and set up a game plan and clearly outline the rules so everyone knows what is expected.
3. Get some fresh air. This is a great way to work on compromise by alternating who is the walk leader each time. Or work on conversational turn taking by letting each person pick something to talk about and then pausing to allow others to comment by counting out three steps before sharing again.
4. Turn on the TV. That’s right, your TV is a great way to work on social skills but there’s a catch: You must turn off the volume. With the TV muted you can pause and look at people’s facial expressions. How are they feeling? What might the problem be? You can fill in the blanks and make your own script with a familiar or new show.
5. Use the classics. There are so many wonderful books that address every social situation you can imagine. Read them, act them out, or even review them like a critic.
Just because we are keeping our distance doesn’t mean that we can’t continue to hone our skills. Now more than ever we need to build strong communicators as we adjust to a new normal.