What are Social Skills?

Imagine going to a new country, not understanding all the subtle nuances of the language or understanding the customs.

Imagine going to a party, trying to hangout with others your own age, not knowing the rules for holding a conversation, or how to initiate an activity.

Social skills are what we do when we interact with people: our thoughts about them, and how what we think affects how we behave toward them. More importantly how our behavior affects how others treat us, which in turn affects how we feel about ourselves. It is a complex cycle.

Some children need more structured, specific teaching in order to acquire these critical skills. This can include (but is not limited to) everything from pragmatic language (figures of speech), social rules, emotional and behavioral regulation, and theory of mind (learning about different perspectives).

Over our lifetime we have developed our communication skills, constantly taking in more social information and adapting (those years you went from grade schooler to teenager). Because social thinking is an intuitive process for most people, we don’t usually think about everything that goes into how we learn and adapt. However it does not come as easily to all children and this has nothing to do with academic intelligence.