The term “social skills” refers to the many ways in which we communicate and interact with others, including verbal and nonverbal communication. Although these skills change and adapt with new experiences thought the lifespan, most individuals learn the majority of their social skills in childhood and adolescence. As with all developmental tasks, some children learn social skills more easily while others experience difficulty.
- Difficulty making and keeping friends
- Frequent arguments with friends
- Ineffective communication with peers, parents and/or teachers (e.g. not looking people in the eye while talking, talking too softly or too loudly, no variation in tone of speech)
- Difficulty with turn-taking in a conversation
- Complaining about being teased or not having any friends
- Difficulty in group work situations
Counseling can help teach important social skills, such as how to initiate a conversation, how to show interest while talking with others, and what makes a “good friend.” Counselors will often use role playing so that children and adolescents can practice their new skills while imagining being in a particular social situation. This helps individuals to prepare for and address any potential stumbling blocks, which can make them feel more at ease in real situations.