Three Steps to Improving Social Skills 

Behaviors that people engage in and demonstrate in a social context are thought of as social skills. These behaviors can be appropriate or inappropriate, which affects whether others view this person as having “poor” or “good” social skills. If a four-year-old is having a tantrum during school, it is viewed as typical. However, if a ten-year-old is having the same tantrum during class the child has a behavior problem. Children that have social or behavioral problems are repeatedly told that they need to develop better social skills. Treatment plans that target social skills often work on how the child behaves in specific social situations like at home, in the community, or at school. For example, the child could work on sitting still in a chair during class or keeping busy and quiet during an outing with the family. These treatment plans are like blueprints for behavior in specific situations that the child encounters. For children to produce the appropriate behavior it requires them to understand the situation and people involved. 

  1. Take part in social thinking- this means the child must consider their own and others’ thoughts, feelings, intentions, and intentions. Self-awareness and perspective taking allow the child to interpret and understand the behaviors that are expected of them and the social situation they are in. It is important to remember that social thinking directly influences behavioral responses. 
  2. Adapt behaviors effectively- children must adapt their behaviors to communicate their intentions to others and based on the thoughts and feelings of others. This increases the likelihood that others respond and react positively. 
  3. Recognize the reactions of others- social skills influence how we feel about people and how people feel about us. However, people respond to our behaviors quickly. If someone has good social skills others will label them as “kind” or “polite.” While someone with poor or weak social skills might be labeled as “rude” or “impolite.” The way people treat us is often based on how they responded to our behavior. 

Using social skilsl are a part of everyday life and they can even affect a child’s academic success. We use social skills and social thinking when you think about other’s perspectives. This could be watching a movie or sporting event, sending a text, or reading a book. These three steps help children become more aware and adaptable when using social skills. First, take part in social thinking and consider everyone’s thoughts, feelings, and intentions. Adapt your behaviors based on your intentions and others’ thoughts and feelings. Then, recognize the reactions of others to your behaviors. Social skills are not memorized, rehearsed, and based on one singular context or stimulus. It is important to teach children to adapt and adjust to specific people or situations.


Resources: Winner, M. (2015, May). Social Thinking Articles. Retrieved July 1, 2020,