5 Ways to Expand Your Child’s Social Skills

Mighty Mommy shares five ways you can help your child expand his own social graces which will help him grow into a confident young adult.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #431

In my pack of 8 kids, several are very outgoing and socially savvy, one is shy, a couple are well ahead of their years when it comes to good social graces, and a couple more are socially appropriate but definitely rely on me for guidance as they navigate their awkward tween years.

Basically, kids reach social milestones as they grow and mature just like they meet developmental milestones.

In Improving Kids’ Social Skills, Susan Diamond, M.A., a speech-language pathologist and author of Social Rules for Kids says "It's important to know the normal developmental skills appropriate for different age groups so you can determine where help is needed."

My kids, now ages 11 through 24, have all experienced a different journey along the road to attaining appropriate social interaction skills so today, Mighty Mommy shares 5 ways you can help your child expand his own social graces which will help him grow into a confident young adult.

#1. Identify Age-Appropriate Social Skills

Too often, we as parents compare our own kids to their peers when we’re not sure if they are reaching milestones at the appropriate age. While some kids absolutely start out a bit slower in the socializing department (half of my eight kids included) there are some helpful milestones to keep in mind.

In How Can I Help My Kids Develop Better Social Skills?, a study done at Vanderbilt University found the top 10 social skills kids need to succeed in elementary school, based on surveys of 8,000 elementary teachers and two decades of classroom research, are:

  1. Listen to others
  2. Follow the steps
  3. Follow the rules
  4. Ignore distractions
  5. Ask for help
  6. Take turns when you talk
  7. Get along with others
  8. Stay calm with others
  9. Be responsible for your behavior
  10. Do nice things for others

#2.  Pretend Play

I had three significantly speech-delayed children, and one of the strategies our speech-pathologist used on a regular basis was engaging my kids in pretend play. Anything from playing house and taking care of dolls and stuffed animals to being a fireman who would help people and put out fires became a part of each and every session.

One of the reasons pretend play was so important was because it allowed my speech-delayed kids to learn language by imitation, but playing pretend with other children or adults helps children learn the social skills they will need to get along in a world full of people. In pretend play, children actually practice taking on adult roles such as a parent, a cook, a doctor or a teacher. It provides children the opportunity to deal with relationships between people and work out strategies to such issues as sharing with others, caring for people, providing help to others and accepting help from others. Pretend play gives them a safe environment to practice these skills and learn to manage their own feelings.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.