1. Arrange for Successful Play Dates
Choose a child with whom your child has previously had positive social encounters. Try to select a neutral location to conduct the play date. This will help to avoid either child from feeling like he/she has to protect his/her “turf.” The play date should be time limited. The first couple of play dates should be limited to 60 to 90 minutes maximum, even if things are going well. The goal for these initial encounters is to have both children go away feeling happy and positive about their time together. After the play dates are over, and the other child is no longer present, you can review with your child what went well and what things need more improvement. This process should occur after every play date. Additional play dates could involve structured activities at home. As theses encounters progress, supervision may be gradually reduced.
2. Setup Successful Experiences with a Parent
Select an activity that both the parent and child enjoy doing. While engaging in the activity, the parent should provide the child with generous praise when witnessing the child engaging in socially appropriate behavior. Remember to be specific when providing praise (i.e., “I really liked it when you said ‘nice job’ at the end of the game”).
3. Model Positive Self Talk
Children with social skills deficits often experience difficulty recognizing their own internal dialogue. Parents can help with this by modeling positive self talk for their child. This activity requires the parent to think out loud, for example, “Right now it is really frustrating and hard for me to be patient and wait my turn in line, but if I do, no one will become upset with me and everyone will get what they want.”