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What is Social Thinking? 5 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Social Skills

Aug 13th, 2021 | by Amanda Wallace

Amanda Wallace

August 13th, 2021

What are Social Thinking Skills?

Social thinking skills help us to make sense of our own and others’ thoughts and feelings. Social thinking starts as an infant and is a life-long process!

Every day, we are presented with many ways to practice social thinking skills. The interactions we have with other people, getting through our daily routines, and even managing our reactions to what happens. Although just normal occurrences throughout our day, these events pose the perfect opportunities to learn more about and practice social thinking skills.  

5 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Social Thinking Skills: 

1. Share how our body language can be a clue to how we’re feeling and what we’re thinking.  

  • “Oh, no! The blocks fell! I see a frown on your face and that shows me you’re feeling upset.”  
  • “You’re rubbing your tummy and pointing to your snack. I understand you may be feeling a little hungry and thinking about eating.” 
  • “You’re jumping up and down! I see you looking at the trash truck and feeling excited!” 
  • “Her eyes got so big, and her mouth was opened wide! She was so scared of the bug!” 

2. Discuss how our actions and body language can affect each other and show how well we’re attending to others’ thoughts and feelings. 

  • “You listened with your ears and heard she wants a turn! Nice job giving her the toy!” 
  • “You turned your whole body around to face dad when he started his story. He knows you like his story.”  
  • “Brother’s showing us his new toy. Let’s turn around and look with our eyes.” 

3. Talk about group ideas and how group ideas work well when everyone follows through. 

  • “Looks like Dad and sister are stacking Legos. They’re both thinking about making a big Lego tower!”  
  • “Looks like everyone is going to the table to eat, but I see you looking at the TV. Let’s eat first and then watch TV.”  
  • “Let’s all clean up together. It’s the fastest way to get things neat and go play outside.” 

4. Reference aloud what they might be thinking about based on what their eyes are looking at (and attending to) 

  • “I see you’re looking at the bird outside. The bird has pretty feathers!” 
  • “Oh, you’re reaching for a book. Let’s read a story!” 
  • “Looks like you’re looking at your spiderman jacket. Would you like to wear that today?” 

5. Along with creating group ideas, explain how we can all better participate in when in a group.  

  • “You, me, and your sister are going to the park. That’s everyone in our group!”  
  • “The swings and slides are close to the group. The benches are too far from the group. Let’s stay with the group!” 
  • “Stepping on brother’s shoes means we’re walking too close. Everyone in the group will be safer if we’re not too close.” 

Always remember that the best teaching tool you have is yourself.

Teaching Social Thinking Skills Starts With You

Don’t forget to model what you are teaching to help your kids better understand social thinking skills. Self-talk through your own ideas and interactions or talk through real life and video exchanges that you see. Get the whole family in on it and use your day-to-day routines to better develop social thinking skills.  

Additional Resources

About the Author

Amanda is a Speech Language Pathology Assistant at NAPA Center, with more than 5 years of experience working in the communicative disorders field. As a bilingual therapist, she is motivated and determined to encourage communication in any way shape or form. She enjoys eating spicy foods, binge watching shows on Netflix, and eating mochi donuts with her husband, her cat, Hendrix, and her dog, Lebowski.  

About NAPA Center

NAPA Center is a world-renowned pediatric therapy clinic, offering speech therapy for children of all ages in traditional or intensive settings. With six clinic locations and intensive therapy pop-up sessions worldwide, NAPA is committed to helping children lead their happiest, healthiest lives. At NAPA, we take an individualized approach to therapy because we understand that each child is unique with very specific needs. For this reason, no two therapeutic programs are alike. If your child needs our services, we will work closely with you to select the best therapies for them, creating a customized program specific to your child’s needs and your family’s goals. Let your child’s journey begin today by contacting us to learn more.

TAGS: Blogs, SLP
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