Eye contact, showing interest, holding a conversation, Miss Manners may have gone by the wayside of the wall phone however good social skills have not! So how do we pry our kids away from the phones and video games to show them that social isn’t an app or on a computer screen? We get SOCIAL with them IRL (in real life). It’s time to put the iPad on the charger and get everyone talking and laughing with each other instead of leaving smiley emoticons on FB.
Good, solid eye contact show others that we are both interested in what they have to say and that we have confidence in our ability to listen.
- Have a staring contest – Making a contest out of making eye contact with you can challenge some kids (especially if they have a competitive streak).
- Eyes on The Forehead – When you are hanging out with your child place a sticker of an eye or a pair of eyes on your forehead. Encourage them to look at the stickers. It may not be exactly looking at your eyes but it is training them to look in the right direction in a funny, less threatening way. (Idea from: Children Succeed)
Interpreting emotions is important at home, in school and on the playground. Many misunderstandings arise from kids misinterpreting the emotions of others. Sometimes kids can be confused by what a particular look means. They may easily mistake a look of disappointment and think someone is angry, or they may mistake a nervous expression for a funny one.
- Emotion Charades – Instead of using movie titles, animal or other typical words, use emotions. Write down feeling words on pieces of paper – or, print out and cut up the worksheet below. Take turns picking a slip of paper and then acting out the word written on it. You could substitute written words for pictures showing the emotion. If kids prefer, you can draw the emotion rather than act it out like in the game Pictionary.
Staying On Topic – Often times it is hard for children to stay on topic and take part of a regular conversation. These activities should help.
- Topic Game – Play a game with the alphabet where every letter has to be the beginning of a word in a theme such as fruit or vegetable: A…apple, B…banana, C…carrot
- Step into Conversation is a learning tool that provides children with autism with the structure and support they need to hold interactive conversations. Cards provide 22 basic, scripted conversations with areas for the child to fill in the blanks. Icons with labels run along the top of each card and remind the child to Stand, Look, Talk and Listen. They are reminded to listen after they make each statement.
Now, take a screen time out and hide those electronic devices. Practice these activities to reach your child’s inner social butterfly which is waiting to burst for from its cocoon. Let’s help our kids make real friends and do playdates that build lasting friendships for life! Or at least until a new season of Sponge Bob Square Pants.