Play is the foundation for future skills, including social skills. Some kids really struggle with learning how to play with their peers. If your child has difficulty playing, they will have a more difficult time in life. Play isn’t always easy for everyone. In particular, we are focused on kids who struggle socially.
They may have a diagnosis such as ADHD, be on the Autism Spectrum, suffer from Social Anxiety or have some Sensory Processing issues. Or they may just have a hard time making connections with others, with a slow to warm up temperament or quirky personality. Some kids need a little help and direct instruction in some basic skills. That’s where we want to help.
What we write about:
Encourage Play has practical resources and simple & intentional play ideas to help kids learn social skills through play.
Frequently, we discuss the importance of play, why play matters and why you should find time to play every day. We also have a series we call Pinterest in Real Life, where we actually do real Pinterest projects we’ve found. We discuss exactly what happened, the good, the bad, the ugly and the unexpected.
The goal is to encourage you to provide an opportunity for your child to play with you daily. It doesn’t have to be a Pinterest project. It could be a game, or drawing, or pretending together. And it doesn’t have to go perfectly. All you have to do is make time to do it. Even 15 minutes a day would be awesome. Get down on the floor and build something with blocks or create with playdough!
These are the skills that children need to be good friend material and encourage others to have good, positive thoughts about them. Some examples include understanding personal space, figuring out how conversations work, how to make small talk, or how to smoothly enter and exit a conversation. These are the skills that will make it easier for children to interact and have conversations with others.
You need to work on these skills with other people, they can’t be taught in isolation. Real world experiences are the best place for kids to learn these.
These are the internal self-regulation that kids need to have in order to continue to have connections and build friendships. If kids aren’t able to regulate their emotions, other kids will steer clear of them and not want to hang out. Kids need to be able to manage their big feelings in expected ways, otherwise it will turn others off. We have a sister site Coping Skills for Kids to help children learn healthy ways to cope with stress.
Resources that you can use, read or watch
We read books about play, friendship and kids who struggle in those areas. When we come across a great resource, we want to share our knowledge with others, so we write a book review. We love to play games so we write reviews of enjoyable games that can be used to help teach social skills at the same time. Check our resource pages for more information.
We also enjoy watching TED talks. Experts in all types of areas have made TED talks about all sorts of topics. They’re not too long and can be super informative. Any time we watch one that is helpful, we'll let you know!
We encourage you to play every day!
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Disclaimer: I’m a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a mom of 2. I write about what I've found has worked for my clients and my own kids and encourage you to try these ideas for yourself. However, this site is not intended as a replacement for seeking individualized face-to-face services or treatment.