Developing social skills

Children with disabilities can face a range of learning, behavioural and communication challenges, effecting social interaction. Friendships and social interactions help children develop new skills. Practicing these skills and gaining acceptance from peers, helps their confidence grow.

  • Encourage them to look at people and use basic greetings when they meet others.
  • Model behaviours you want to encourage - listening and responding to others, body language, starting a conversation, sharing information and dealing positively with conflict.
  • Play with them and practise sharing toys and taking turns.
  • If sharing is a challenge, have duplicates made of favourite toys and have enough play materials for everyone to share.
  • When other children are around, plan activities you know the child can do confidently.
  • Choose toys, books, videos, music, art and other materials children enjoy.
  • Praise them when a social situation is going well.
  • If they’re getting tired or overwhelmed help them to manage their feelings.
  • Don’t force them to interact if they want to be alone.
  • Don’t overreact if they’re being left out or behaving in a socially inappropriate way.

Talk to your care team if you need support helping a child in your care with their social skills.

Source: © State of New South Wales through Department of Family and Community Services.

Other resources that may be helpful include:

Helping children with disability learn - aged 0 to 8 years

Teaching skills to children with disability: practical strategies - aged 0 to 18 years

Play and friendship for children with disability - aged 0-8 years

Social skills for children with autism spectrum disorder - aged 0 to 3 years

Social skills for teenagers with autism spectrum disorder - aged 9 - 18 years

Want to become a carer?
To become a foster carer your ability to care and nurture a child is what really matters.
To learn more, visit the LWB foster care website