Psychology Melbourne Blog

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5 ways to improve your child's social skills

Children with autism often have difficult recognising the perspective of other people and how the people they are in contact with are feeling.

What is perspective-taking and why is it important?

For successful social interactions and developing reciprocal relationships the ability to recognise that others have their own unique perspective, and to imagine what that perspective might be, is crucial.

Perspective-taking involves processing multiple layers of information, hypothesising about how another person may be feeling or thinking, and adjusting your behaviour accordingly.

While this can be a seemingly automatic process, for some children it can be very challenging and even overwhelming.

5 steps to help your child develop better perspective-taking

1. Help your child recognise their own feelings and responses to situations 

Children can't imagine feelings and intentions in others if they don't first recognise them in themselves. You should ask "wondering questions about how your child is feeling, what is happening in their body or what they are thinking. You can help them out by labelling what you observe for them ... for example, "You're sad because Nanna can't visit today."

2. Model and verbalise your own experience and feelings 

It’s important that your child can see for themselves the different types of feelings and experiences we all have in response to situations. For example “I’m feeling worried because I’m running late and don’t want to miss the bus.”

3. Video record your social interactions and watch them back together 
This can be done easily using a smartphone and it will give your child the ability to observe and discuss what they notice and to look for clues about how others may be feeling or thinking.
4. Pause while reading a book or watching a movie to observe and ask questions about the character’s perspective
You can make predictions together about what characters will do and then turn the page or press play to see if they were right. This step gives children the chance to test out their predictions and adjust them for next time.  
5Help kids explore ways in which they are the same and ways in which they differ from others
Create a mini-survey of questions to ask other children about their interests, dislikes and preferences (i.e. favourite food). Reflect on similarities and differences and make predictions about how each child would feel or think in certain situations (i.e. if given their favourite food). 

For more information

For more tips on how to improve your child’s social skills further book now for our S.S. GRIN-HFA Social Skills Group.