Kids and teens love having fun. But what if they could have fun while learning crucial, lifelong skills? It may sound too good to be true, but we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best social skills activities for kids that are as entertaining as they are educational!
1. Play Board Games
What kid doesn’t love board games? They’re fun, colorful, and always make for a great time.
But a lot of parents view board games as just that — games. There are so many games out there that can teach your child or teen valuable social skills.
You’ll want to start with cooperative games, that way no one has to worry about “losing” so to speak. A cooperative game will help your child learn to accomplish a goal as a team while also stressing the importance of turn-taking.
Once they’ve mastered the basics, move on to a cooperative game where they’ll learn the basics of winning and losing and how to handle both gracefully. Here are a few of our personal recommendations.
- Peaceable Kingdom
- Sunny Day Pond
- Mansions of Madness
2. Sign Them Up For A Drama Club Or Improv Group
Joining a drama club is a great way to let your child indulge in the joys of make-believe while learning valuable skills. They’ll see it as putting on a play, but in reality, it’s so much more.
Think about everything that goes into putting on even a simple skit. It requires timing (turn-taking), enunciation, cooperation, imagination, and memorization.
Plus, most drama clubs begin each session with warm-up games. These games are often social skills games in disguise designed to get kids to focus and work together as a team.
3. Practice Talking About Their Favorite Subjects
If you’re a parent, the notion of letting your child talk about their favorite topic may seem like the opposite of a productive experience.
The trick is to engage their interests while focusing on the basics of conversation.
So next time they want to tell you about their favorite character in Adventure Time, let them! Frame the experience as a teaching tool.
Tell them that you’re happy to talk about a subject, but you want it to be a conversation and not a monologue. If they don’t give you a chance to respond (let’s face it, kids are excitable) gently remind them that you want a turn to talk, too.
4. Let Your Child Teach You Something
Every child loves to feel like they’re the smartest person in the room. Having your child “teach” you something — even if it’s something you already know — is a fun way to indulge them while also practicing their social skills.
As your child begins their lesson, periodically pause and ask questions or act like you don’t understand something. Doing so will teach your child to demonstrate patience.
If they get upset or frustrated, remind them that you’re doing your best and want to learn. Then, encourage them to use a more respectful, calm tone so you can focus on the lesson.
5. Having A Staring Contest
Many children who struggle with social skills have a tendency to avoid eye contact. However, turning it into a fun game can make the idea of eye contact more appealing.
To give kids an extra challenge, take turns making faces for each emotion and see if they can correctly guess the emotion while maintaining eye contact.
They’ll see it as a competition, but you’re actually helping them get more comfortable about looking others in the eye and improving their emotional recognition.
6. Practice Emotions Through Charades
Charades isn’t often thought of as a teaching tool, but modifying it a bit can help your child learn to recognize emotions. Instead of playing a standard game of charades, limit the subjects to emotions.
It’s a surprisingly good tool for teaching children to recognize emotions.
7. Learn About Emotional Zones Together
Let’s face it, emotions are pretty complex when it comes down to it. If your child struggles with emotional regulation, they may not understand how significant their reactions are.
Which is why it’s so important to teach them the concept of emotional zones. Created in 2001 by Leah Kuypers, emotional zones function kind of like a traffic light system. Here’s a quick rundown of the basics.
- Red – emotionally heightened, little control over emotions.
- Yellow – in control but still heightened.
- Green – calm and focused.
- Blue – bored, disinterested and disconnected.
To teach your child about emotional zones, highlight a scene from their favorite story or movie. Have them identify which characters are in which zones and let them explain why.
8. Enroll Your Child In A Sports League
Sports are among the best social skills games a child can engage in, and it certainly helps that they’re fun, to boot.
Enrolling your child in a local sports league gets them around kids their own age while simultaneously teaching them about how to handle winning and losing gracefully while also respecting rules and boundaries.
9. Play A Game Of Resonym
If you’ve never heard of Resonym, which dubs itself as the awkward moment card game, you and your child are in for a treat.
Each round, players choose one card from three decks. One deck contains a set-up, the next contains an awkward incident, and the third deck contains a reaction.
Throughout each round, players are encouraged to discuss whether or not the person handled the situation correctly and elaborate on what they’d do in the situation.
10. Tell A Story And Play Devil’s Advocate
Come up with a short story involving a conflict between two or more characters. Ideally, no one should be a bad guy, per say, as kids often struggle to see a gray area.
Next, have your child put themselves into the shoes of both characters. Let them explain why both characters felt the way they felt.
These Social Skills Activities For Kids Can Be As Fun As They Are Helpful
Don’t forget to be patient if your child doesn’t catch up to core concepts. Like anything else, social skills take time to develop.
But in due time, these social skills activities for kids can help your child understand their emotions as well as the emotions of others.
Interested in getting certified as a social skills trainer or working with other children to develop their social skills? Get in touch to learn more about this exciting and rewarding career.