Can you teach your young child social skills? Yes. Here’s how.

Happy Wednesday!

Heads up: spots are still available in the free online parenting class – How to Help Your Kids Get Along with Other Kids – that I’m teaching TOMORROW, Thursday, June 27. Click here to register for this free class, so you can learn how to handle it when your kids aren’t getting along!

In-training update: edits to the book I am currently drafting are back from my editor!! I will be speaking with her today, and I’m excited because it’s another step on the path to getting Educating Happy Kids: 9 Ways to Help Your Children Learn What They Need to Know out to you ASAP.

As always, thank you so much for your positive energy and messages as I keep going with this huge project of finishing a book. It means SO much.

How to teach social skills

When a coaching client of mine shared that her kids’ teacher had told her “there is no way to teach social skills,” I wondered how many people have this mistaken assumption. I knew I wanted to write to you about it, in case you had also received the same message.
Social skills can totally be taught! In fact they are a natural part of being human, we are teaching them all the time.
3 things you can do to teach your child social skills:
1) Expose your kids to other kids.

If our children are going to learn how to be social, they need that exposure first and foremost. Playgrounds and parks, libraries, fast food play places… I’m sure you can think of many more, but these are the first that come to my mind as places you can bring your young children and just raise their social-exposure-time.
2) Let them play.

Open-ended and screen-free are the operative words here. Participating in a planned activity/class, or watching something on a screen alongside other kids, doesn’t count because our kiddos need time and space to spontaneously connect.
3) Play WITH them.

Participate in some of the many different kinds of open-ended, screen free play in the world:


  • Run warm water and soap into the sink; add spoons, ladles, or plastic containers and use a smock or something to protect clothing, and just play. Be sure to wipe up, especially the floor, after the play is finished.
  • Put out drawing materials; watercolor paints; or craft sticks and glue out on a table, and again just play! Explore the materials. Listen to your child’s exclamations and questions, and enjoy this time of hanging out and talking together. As with the water, if it’s something messy dress your child in less-than-best clothing and layer newspaper on the table to prevent damage to furniture.
  •  Place play dough out on a table, along with (if you’d like) rolling pins or molds. Doesn’t have to be fancy, just a selection of objects that you and your child can use with the play dough.


  • Take a short walk, stopping to let your child marvel at (to us) commonplace things like puddles, or frost, or interesting plants or flowers
  •  Let your child explore in an age-appropriate way; if it’s appropriate, take off shoes and wiggle your toes in the grass. Talk about the sensations you feel, and respond when your child does the same.
  •  Bring out a selection of different sized balls, and just see what happens; a favorite memory of mine was when my youngest, at about 2 years old, would arrange two stability balls so that he could take a running leap and roll over both of them, landing on his tummy in the grass, and just lying there giggling.
  • Turn on the hose and fill a few pails or buckets. See what happened if you drop balls, rocks, or other objects into the water. Does the water from the hose feel cold? Or warm?

Just explore together, and talk as you do so.

It’s hard to believe that you’re teaching social skills while you do this. But it’s true.

Ultimately, teaching social skills means being social.

Talking with kids, hearing their questions and responding to them. Giving them the opportunity to engage, socially.

That’s it.

That is the work here.


Regardless of whether you “teach,” you’re always teaching something.

When I was about three years old my mom got into an argument with my uncle, who told her “F–k you!” Before my mom had a chance to respond, I snapped back “no, f–k you!” Which caused both of them to laugh, quickly settle their argument, and reign in their language.

Kids are always watching us for cues about how to behave. This is true whether we acknowledge it or not, which means that kids take on behaviors we don’t necessarily wish they would.

We are always teaching something. The best we can do sometimes is to try and be mindful of that.

Keep reading below for What’s up on the podcast/on YouTube/in the Facebook group…

And for the picture of the week! Which is of a place where I learned tons of social skills!
Wishing you a wonderful parenting week!
What’s up on the podcast this week:

We’re exploring this question about how to teach social skills more thoroughly on the podcast this week! Click the link below to listen:


What’s up on my YouTube channel this week:
Extending on this theme, the live YouTube (I do one every Thursday) is called
“Can I teach my child social skills? If so how?” and it is available at the link just above! Or,
Check out my YouTube channel by clicking here.

What’s up in the We Turned Out Okay Facebook group this week:
Each Monday in our We Turned Out Okay Facebook group I do a superquick Facebook live that I call “Magic Words for Parents”… And this week’s was all about one phrase you can use to teach social skills.
Click here to join the Facebook group : )

Picture of the week:

This is the view of one of my favorite places in the whole wide world, the reservoir in the town where I grew up, attended camp, and spent countless hours soaking up nature as a kid.
Ben and I got married at this reservoir, too!
It’s got lots of great memories and I know for a fact that I learned tons of social skills in the water swimming, sailing or canoeing on the reservoir, and engaging in tons of activities around it as I was growing up.


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