Developing your adolescent’s social skills

Written by Amy Coleman, Nicole Guinan and Sallyann Murray who are Senior Speech and Language Pathologists and Group Social Skills Facilitators at Therapy Pro

Social skills: what are they and why are they important?

Social skills are the foundation for interacting with peers and adults at home and in the community. They help us build friendships, form relationships, and interact in group activities. We use our social skills every day when interacting with people for example ordering a coffee, chatting with a friend or playing a team sport.

Social skills include understanding and using appropriate body language and facial expression, greeting others, starting a conversation, staying on topic, turn-taking, asking questions, making comments, and understanding humour and sarcasm.

Social skills difficulties can lead to frustration, confusion and exclusion or isolation from peers.

Therapy Pro speech and language pathologists often work with children and adolescents to identify particular social skills difficulties, deficits, and challenges, and then together, develop a tool kit of strategies that can be practiced and used in social situations like school, and at home with family members.

Who can benefit from support with social skills?

Everyone! Social skills continue to develop and change throughout our lives. Social skills difficulties can become more visible in teenage years.  This is because while everyone develops at different rates, adolescents have complex verbal and nonverbal interactions with their peers. When a child does not meet the expectations of the adults and peers around them, their lack of skills in this area, stands out. Children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) particularly struggle with social skills. Working on social skills in a group setting is a great way to develop and practice these skills supported by a skilled therapist who can lead and facilitate the group.

What things can I do, as the parent or carer, to build my loved one’s social skills?

As a parent/carer or someone working with an adolescent with social skills difficulties you can:

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Therapy Pro acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as traditional custodians of this nation. We pay our respects to the owners and keepers of the lands where we work and acknowledge all Elders past, present and emerging.