Social Skills Resources for Parents

If you believe raising well-adjusted, resilient kids is harder than ever, you’re not alone! And your belief is supported by research looking at all aspects of social skills.

According to a study by Jean Twenge at San Diego State University, “... more and more young people experience poor mental health and psychopathology, possibly due to an increased focus on money, appearance, and status rather than on community and close relationships.

And while this has been the trend for over 50 years, it seems to be accelerating.

We know from multiple research studies conducted over the past 40 years that children who master social emotional learning can establish positive relationships and are more likely to experience positive well-being. We also know that social and emotional skills are exceptional predictors of success at school and work.

For example, this study looked at college graduation rates for students with strong social competence in Kindergarten.

That’s right. Kindergarten students with strong social skills were four times more likely to graduate from college.

Pretty compelling evidence for the importance of developing and improving social and emotional skills, especially at an early age!

Social Skills Tips and Advice From Experts

developmental milestones

Developmental Milestones for Social and Emotional Skills

As parents, we know how to monitor our child’s physical developmental milestones. When did your child begin to sit up, ...
sad child

Do I have a Sad Child or Could it be Depression?

Q: My son used to be a fun, lighthearted and very active kid. But lately, he’s been negative about everything ...
child feels left out

What to do when your child feels left out

Q: My daughter was really upset when she came home from school today. At the beginning of the day, one ...
what are the warning signs of adhd

What are the Warning Signs of ADHD?

Q: My son’s teacher has raised some concerns about his behavior in class and suggests that we test him for ...
following directions

Following Directions: Advice from Experts

Q: My son is an intelligent kid. He does well in school, loves playing on his basketball team and has ...
getting ready for school

Getting Ready for School: Avoid the Drama

Q: School mornings are a real struggle in my house. My kids have to do just six things each morning: ...
impulsive behavior

Impulsive Behavior in Children

Q: My daughter is so impulsive. She’s constantly getting into trouble for things like grabbing toys away from friends at ...
lacking self confidence

Lacking Self-Confidence: Expert Ideas and Tips to Help your Kids

Q: My son is a smart, capable boy, but he is lacking self-confidence in just about anything he does. A ...
Bullied at school

Bullied at School: Expert Ideas to Help your Child

Q: I think my child is being bullied at school. In the last couple of weeks, she’s started complaining about ...
separation anxiety in children

Separation Anxiety in Children: Ideas and Advice from Experts

Q: I expected my son to have separation anxiety when he was a toddler, but now, when I drop him ...

Meltdowns: How to Help your Child and Reduce Frustration

Q: I thought we were done with meltdowns when my daughter graduated from preschool. But, these days, as a first ...
bored at school

Bored at School and Academically Gifted

Q: When I ask my gifted child how school is each day, he almost always responds by saying this: “Really, ...
perfectionist child

Perfectionist Child: How to Help with Tips from Experts

Q: My child is a gifted student and an absolute perfectionist. She knows the material, but often can’t seem to ...
making friends at school

Making Friends at School

Q: All the other kids in my son’s class have a best friend or a group of close friends, but ...
growth mindset

Growth Mindset for Kids

Q: When my son fails to get something right after the first or second try, he gives up. In math, ...
school refusal

Strategies for Helping Your Child with School Refusal

Q: My daughter has always loved going to school, but this year, something has changed. Many mornings, she complains about ...
parent-teacher relationships

Parent-Teacher Relationships to Help Your Child Thrive at School

Q: My daughter’s teacher seems like a lovely woman and, so far, we’ve had a good parent-teacher relationship. But now ...
overcome negative thinking

How to Help Your Child Overcome Negative Thinking

Q: Whether it’s a test at school or a new step at dance class, my daughter doesn’t think she can ...
difficulty making decisions

My Child Has Difficulty Making Decisions: How Can I Help?

Q: My daughter can’t make a decision to save her life. When she was picking out a new shirt at ...
angry child

Angry Kid: How Can I Help My Son be Less Frustrated?

Q: My son can be such an angry kid. When just about anything doesn’t go his way, he gets so ...
coping skills

Coping Skills for Gifted Students

Q: Our gifted child easily breaks down at even the smallest problems. And when he’s stressed out because of worries ...

5 Ways Parents Can Help Children Improve Social Skills

As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher, important long before their peers, and a crucial role model for the development of their social and emotional skills.

From a very early age, children observe interactions around them and mimic those interaction styles and attitudes for themselves. For example, if parents show respect to each other, the child expects people in the world to show respect to one another.

In addition to observation, children also learn from parents through behavior reinforcement. Positive reinforcement of a behavior increases the likelihood that the behavior will occur again in the future. For example, if you praise your child for asking for something politely, he’s more likely to be polite when asking the next time. Through these many small interactions over time, children begin to decipher the rules that dictate social interaction.

By using the following strategies, you can help your kids develop a “compass” to understand and navigate social situations and improve interpersonal skills.

To help parents like you, we’ve partnered with leading youth mental health researchers, educators, and authors to provide practical approaches for dealing with modern problems.


We tend to think of coaches only in terms of sports, but, in fact, coaching can be an effective way of improving many types of life skills. Using positive reinforcement, you can praise, support and encourage your child as he or she builds social and emotional skills and learns new concepts. With this method of skills development, you act as a coach or mentor and emphasize positive change while identifying areas of improvement with constructive feedback.

As an example, let’s say you’ve noticed your child has poor self-esteem and displays a negative self-image during challenges. To help coach your child, pay attention to what your child does well and actively praise his efforts. Reinforce his attempts to practice new skills and remember that trying out new things can be frightening when you are unsure of your abilities.

Think of something your child is proud to know or do. Do you have a math whiz, a soccer star, a musician, or a video game expert? Ask her to teach you this skill. Spend time on this task to show your interest. In the end, let her know how impressed you are and show your gratitude to her for teaching you something new.


You are always modeling a skill or concept for your child through your actions, responses, and how you communicate with your child and others. Use this influence intentionally to help your child develop his or her skills.

For example, some children have a harder time understanding that their actions lead to positive or negative consequences. How can you help your child connect the dots to think through possible actions and their likely outcomes?

When you are faced with a decision, talk it through with your child. Share what could happen with each choice. Explain step by step how you made your decision. Model making good choices so your child will see the positive consequences that come from your actions and words.

Role Playing

Role plays helps your child practice newly learned skills by acting out behaviors in a particular situation. This provides children with hands-on practice in a safe environment and allows you to give feedback as they perfect their skills. Role-playing can be especially effective for children who learn by doing rather than by listening or writing.

Impulse control is an area of concern in children. To practice this skill, role-play a real-life scenario. Here’s an example: “A big project is due tomorrow and you haven’t started yet. Your friend wants to come over after school to play video games. What should you do?” Remember to ask questions about both negative and positive outcomes. You can address the results of not finishing the project on time, getting a bad grade, or having to stay up late to get everything finished.


Your child’s environment or surroundings can have a significant impact on his emotions. Simply changing part of the environment may help. For starters, try to remove TV background noise while having a conversation. Take it a step further by moving conversations from the yard to a quiet room to avoid distractions.

Let’s say your child is struggling to build new friendships. To promote positive relationships, set up play dates with STRUCTURED activities. Start with one child and increase the number of children as your child’s skills improve. Observe and reinforce her progress. Go to places where other kids socialize and encourage your child to initiate conversations. On the ride home, let your child share their thoughts on building friendships in a new setting.


Make time to talk with your child. And keep in mind that it’s also important to listen. Discuss a topic without interruption or correction. Giving your child your full attention as you listen and respond helps him learn to be a good communicator. Allow your child to express thoughts and feelings so you can fully understand his point of view.

As you talk to your child and better understand his strengths and weaknesses, remember that every child learns at their own pace. Most importantly, as your child practices social skills, point out areas where you’ve noticed a positive change in your child’s social attitudes or behaviors, and congratulate them on their progress.