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The Importance of Social Skills

by

Leonardo Rocker

Social skills are a common concern among parents. Often children can have difficulties in making and keeping friends. They may be left out of games at lunch, not get invited to other children’s houses or may even be teased by some children.

In addition to our Social Skills workshop - The Best of Friends - we have prepared the factsheet below to provide more information to parents about social skill sin children.

An important aspect of maintaining friendships is social skills.

Social skills are specific behaviours such as smiling, making eye contact, asking and responding to questions, and giving and acknowledging compliments during a social exchange. These behaviours result in positive social interactions and have been linked to positive developmental outcomes, including peer acceptance.

How can I tell if my child is having difficulties with social skills?

  • Little use of eye contact,
  • Uninterested in social interactions,
  • Difficulties initiating social interactions,
  • Difficulties interpreting verbal and non-verbal social cues,
  • Inappropriate emotional response,
  • Lack of empathy towards others.

It can be upsetting for parents to realise that their children are having difficulties making friends. Research has shown however, that social skills can be effectively taught to children.

How to encourage your child to develop social skills

  • Help your child make friends by organising play dates, having sleepover and joining clubs.
  • Offer suggestions on ways to handle situations at school and with friends.
  • Children learn a lot by observing how adults interact so it is important to always model appropriate behaviour, such as greeting shop assistants and using Peoples names when possible.
  • Help your child to understand different points of view by describing feelings and having conversations about how other people might feel. This can help your child to develop empathy and will help them deal with conflict when it occurs.
  • Help develop conversation skills such as asking questions and listening to others
  • Discuss behaviours such as teasing and bullying with your child, to help them understand that some comments could upset others.

How can the Quirky Kid Clinic help your child?

The Quirky Kid Clinic is a unique place for children and adolescents aged 2-18 years. We work from the child’s perspective to help them find their own solutions. Additionally, we offer a variety of resources, workshops and individualized consultations to support children experiencing difficulties with social skills.

  • The Best of Friends Workshop TM is an innovative social skills and communication program for children aged 3 to 13. This activity-based workshop encourages children to make the most of their friendships by developing good communication skills. Workshops are available throughout t the year both in school and clinic setting.
  • How to be a Friend Book - This book published by Quirky Kid helps children to understand how friendships are formed and the best way to handle conflict. It is a must for all children and proactive parents.
  • Face it Cardsare a set of 35 hand-drawn facial expression cards. The cards give
    greater meaning to discussions involving feelings and behaviours
    . They can help families resolve conflict and classmates explore social scenarios or ethical dilemmas and also allow children to ‘pointing out’ their emotions, helping them to increase understanding, problem-solving and empathy when dialogue is difficult. Tell Me a Story Cards are a useful tool for parents and professionals working with young people. They invite children to recall and retell their own memorable moments of extremity, this facilitates communication, highlights strengths, and boosts self-esteem.

Please contact the Quirky Kid Clinic on 9362 9297 for further information. You can also discuss Social Skills with other parents at the Quirky Kid Hudle - our parenting forums.

Further Reading

Flower in a Pot

View article references

  • Tse, J., Strulovitch, J., Tagalakis, V., Meng, L., & Fombonne, E. (2007). Social skills training for adolescents with Asperger syndrome and high functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 1960-1968.
  • Rao, P., Beidel, D., & Murray, M. (2008). Social skills training for children with Aspergers’s syndrome or high-functioning autism: a review and recommendations. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38, 353-361.

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