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Special School District of St. Louis County

Helping Students Build
Friendships and Social Skills

Going to a football game, eating pizza with friends and playing games is the best part of the week for some students, but for others, socialization can be a challenge. 

Social skills can be a major factor in determining student success and growth. With the appropriate communication and social skills, students can improve their independence and have a fulfilling adulthood.

Tips for Teaching Social Skills at Home

All Kinds of Minds, a nonprofit institute for the understanding of differences in learning, offers these suggestions for parents and guardians to assist their children in relating to others:

  1. Recognize nonverbal attempts to communicate feelings such as facial expressions, sighs and gestures and encourage your child to express those feelings in words.

  2. Describe the types of language used in different social situations, and role-play examples of situations.

  3. Locate structured, supervised activities related to your child’s interests. If your child will be participating without you, alert the adult leader about your child’s specific social weaknesses so that he or she can monitor interactions.

  4. Use role play to help your child learn and practice respect for personal space. Provide plenty of feedback and positive reinforcement for good practice.

  5. Offer suggestions for how your child can start a conversation with a classmate or peer. Some children need explicit directions; others may only need general suggestions. An example: When working with a partner or group on a task, compliment others on their work or offer to help finish the task.

  6. Be a good listener. If your child tells you about a social dilemma, serve as a sounding board. Do not try to fix the problem; rather encourage your child to generate his or her own solutions to the problem.

  7. Help your child enhance his or her ability to communicate feelings by developing vocabulary words to label emotions and thoughts. Encourage your child to make a list of the terms in a notebook or on a poster so that they are easily accessible.

Published April 2017

students playing

Social Skills Resources

SSD offers a variety of resources to assist families in helping their children develop friendships and build strong social networks.

arrow icon "Friendships and Social Skills Strategies" resource packets are available from SSD's Parent Education and Diversity Awareness program.
Contact Michelle Levi Perez at for details.

arrow icon SSD's Family and Community Resource Center offers books, videos and other materials about social skills.
Click here to see a list.

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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