20 Social Skills Activities To Help Child & Youth with Development

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There are a plethora of social skill activities that contribute to a child’s emotional, social, and physical well-being. Participating in social activities allows kids to build positive relationships and conflict-resolution skills.

They also help children become more empathetic, as they learn to think about others’ thoughts and feelings. However, parents often struggle with helping their kids develop these important skills.

After all, conversations about emotion and relationships may not be comfortable for some parents. However, simply adding in some simple social skill-building activities could address this issue. Kids need social interactions to learn about proper social behavior.

In this article, we will cover which activities most contribute to social development in children and the benefits of implementing such activities.

What are Social Skills?

Social skills are necessary for proper communication. This includes any form of communication, whether it be emotional expressions, body language, or speech. Therefore, there are two subcategories of social skills: verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

Everything we say is influenced by more than the content of our speech. Tone, hand and/or other body gestures, as well as other nonverbal expressions. Some people believe they are naturally skilled at communicating.

While this may be true, there are plenty of examples of people who developed social skills without an extroverted or charismatic nature. The key to developing social skills in understanding how individuals communicate with one another.

It entails understanding how to clearly send a message to others, as well as how to maximize efficiency and effectiveness in your speech and gestures.

20 Examples of Social Skills Activities

While socializing may seem simple, developing this key skill can be a difficult time for some individuals. A few simple and exciting activities can kickstart social improvements in children. The following list of evidence-based social skills activities are examples of quality social activities for children.

  1. Staring Contest
  2. Game of Roll the Ball
  3. Virtual Playtime
  4. Emotion Charades
  5. Facial Expression Mimicking
  6. Topic Game
  7. Step into Conversation
  8. Improvised Stories
  9. Name Game
  10. Simon Says
  11. Music-making and Rhythm Games
  12. Character Games
  13. Playing Pretend
  14. Token Stack
  15. Decision-Making Games
  16. Building Activities
  17. Gardening
  18. Team Sports
  19. Productive Debate
  20. Scavenger Hunts

Staring Contest

Eye contact is necessary to remain dominant in a conversation. It’s also needed to remain engaged. Unfortunately, kids often struggle with maintaining eye contact. Starting contests encourage kids to focus on their conversations.

It reduces impulsivity and reduces the odds of kids speaking over each other. If that is too difficult for your child, place a sticker on your head and instruct them to look at it while having a conversation.

Game of Roll the Ball

Even toddlers can participate in this engaging game. It is simple: two children take turns rolling a ball to the other player. They learn to synchronize when to take action and when to let others participate.

This skill translates to conversations or other joint activities. Also, the self-control skills gained in this activity reduce children’s impulsivity.

Virtual Playtime

With the plethora of technology available in the 21st century, you can try setting up your child on virtual chats or conferences. They will have to learn to pay attention and retain eye contact, even without being there in person.

Virtual activities help kids adapt to new communication methods, which will likely be useful in the future. Problem-solving abilities are also developed through virtual conferences, as they come up with new ways to speak with their friends and family.

Emotion Charades

Charades is a classic lighthearted game. This version involves kids writing down an emotion, acting it out, and others guessing the emotion. Kids learn to recognize the ways certain emotions are portrayed by individuals.

You could also use a similar twist on Pictionary, where the kids draw the emotion instead of acting it out. Through acting out such emotions, children learn to manage their feelings. This contributes to smooth feeling communication and stronger relationships.

Facial Expression Mimicking

Topic Game

Step into Conversation

Step into Conversation is a card game made specifically for kids with autism. It is an excellent activity that helps kids start conversations or remain on topic with cards. It describes elements of empathy, staying on topic, and remaining engaged.

Kids learn when to speak, how to be polite, and when to let others talk. It adds structure to conversations; these structures can later be applied to real-life situations.

Improvised Stories

Storytelling is a common behavior in both children and adults. Adding the improvised element allows children to think critically and quickly. Begin by creating cards with words and pictures. Place them face down on a surface.

Instruct kids to select three cards and then include these objects in their narrative. The game ends when the story is over or all the cards have been utilized. This can be a multiplayer game, where kids build off one another’s ideas, or an individual game.

Name Game

Simon Says

Music-making and Rhythm Games

Character Games

Playing Pretend

All that is necessary for this activity is imaging you are someone you are not. Your child could pretend to be a teacher, surgeon, cashier, or even the president. They can explore different communication styles and social activities during playtime.

For instance, if they imagine themselves as the country’s leader, they learn to be charismatic, listen to others’ input, and adapt to an ever-changing environment.

Token Stack

Decision-Making Games

There are a plethora of decision-making games that help kids build social abilities. Even simple sorting games help kids become persistent, cooperative, thoughtful, and empathetic.

Kids will have to settle on a decision, even if it is not correct at first. Do not punish kids if they get something wrong, but rather, encourage them to keep trying after making mistakes.

Building Activities

Building requires an immense amount of socializing, even if it is just with Legos or blocks. Kids must communicate with one another, listen, and understand one another to execute a common plan.

They collaborate to create their desired item. If they fail, they learn to adapt and create a new strategy. Once they succeed, they can celebrate their unique abilities.


Team Sports

Productive Debate

Scavenger Hunts

Benefits of Learning Social Skills

Now that you know ways to gain social skills, you may be wondering about the specific benefits of gaining these qualities. There are truly an immense amount of benefits to an individual’s future career, current relationships, and mental well-being.

These benefits include:

  • Clearer communication with your peers
  • Maintain a positive outlook on life, and inspire others to do the same
  • Develop self-control, both for negative emotions and impulsivity
  • Dissolve conflicts and address differences with colleagues effectively
  • Become empathetic and see problems from someone else’s perspective

Social Skills Activities for High School Students

Maintaining attention is usually a struggle for high schoolers. Therefore, parents are often confused by how they can help their kids develop social skills. Nonetheless, there are a number of great activities that can kickstart their social development.

Here is just a shortlist:

  1. Role Play
  2. Speed Dating with Conversations Cards
  3. Strengths Jenga
  4. Act of Kindness Board
  5. Debates

Role Play

Speed Dating with Conversations Cards

Strengths Jenga

Act of Kindness Board


Social Skills Activities for Autism and Special Needs

Kids with autism often face challenges with making friends and communicating with their peers. Nonetheless, they are often equally interested in maintaining strong relationships with their peers. They may just be confused about how to execute quality conversations.

A few ways to assist kids with autism include:

1. What Would You Do?

In this game, kids consider how they would react in certain scenarios. Parents can ask their kids, “how would you do this?” or, “how would you react if this happened?” It helps children gain some critical thinking skills and learn how to respond to questions.

2. Sharing Time

A favorite game for elementary school teachers, sharing time is a great social/emotional development game for kids with autism. Kids take turns sharing details about an item with the class. Autistic kids learn to actively listen and also describe their own interests. If they share a common interest with a peer, they might gain a new friend.

3. Emotion Cards

Design cards with a picture of someone expressing emotion on one side, and the emotion being expressed on the other side. See if your child can guess the emotion expressed. If they are confused, give them hints or explain the context behind the picture.

4. Board Games

Manners are an important element of communication and relationship building. You can add an element of etiquette to classic board games to give kids an opportunity to learn about manners. Simply have them say ‘good luck’ or ‘good game’ during and after the game.

5. Name Game

Kids with autism may struggle with remembering other people’s names or feeling comfortable with introducing themselves. Gather kids in a circle. Share your name, and then have the person to the right do the same.

Then, ask him to remember your name and recite it. Do the same for everyone across the circle, with each person having to remember the name of a random student before them.

Signs of Social Skills Deficits In Children

Let’s now take a look at some of the main key elements when it comes to building trust in remote teams.

A remote team offers different changes than a normal team but at the same time, many things are similar.To give children the best odds of success, you must address any social skill deficits early on. If you do not, these gals could potentially impact them for years in the future. So, it is important to spot deficits early on in life.

Some potential signs to look out for include:

  • Trouble making friends or maintaining friendships
  • Inconsistent eye contact. They may choose to stare at other objects, such as the floor or ceiling
  • Difficulty maintaining a smooth conversation. They may interrupt others, randomly switch topics, or create awkward pauses
  • Cannot recognize others personal space and boundaries
  • Disregard potential consequences for their actions
  • Use improper manners
  • Ask personal questions or use inappropriate language
  • Have difficulty seeing other’s perspectives and struggle with empathy
  • Cannot recognize sarcasm or hyperbole
  • Struggle with nonverbal communication and reading other people’s body language and expressions
  • Difficulty asking for assistance
  • Could be viewed as selfish or self-centered
  • Challenges with mitigating conflict
  • Overly perfectionistic and gives up after failure

Frequently Asked Questions About Social Skills Activities

How do you teach social skills?

Kids learn social skills best through practice, which means they must socialize to gain these skills. One way to encourage social skill development is through exposing kids to new friends and giving them topics to speak about.

There are many games that can help teach kids to socialize and communicate effectively, too. Building together or playing pretend are natural ways kids can learn to communicate and work together.

What are social development activities?

What are some positive social skills?

What are some social skills group games?

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