Strengthening Social Skills

Strengthening Social Skills
Strengthening Social Skills

Editors Note: The California Partners Project conducted a statewide listening tour with California mothers, parents, and caregivers to understand how they navigated the integration of technology and devices into most aspects of their children’s lives. These evolving toolkits and best practices are meant to meet parents where they are. Strengthening social skills is the seventh toolkit.

Parents have noticed that their children’s social skills are lagging. Social emotional skills and social norms have been upended due to the pandemic. They express concern about how to boost their children’s social-emotional skills as in-person social interactions increase. 

Open-ended questions facilitate authentic conversation. Consider whether your children know how to introduce themselves to others and how this simple act can build community and connection. Social skills can help kids achieve what they need in terms of friendships, family relationships and school partnerships. 

Tips to strengthen social skills

Tip 1: Practice conversation with those you see outside the home and encourage kids to think of open-ended questions to ask friends.

Dr. Dana Tuttle, co-founder of Screen Sense, suggests that parents and youth “rebuild conversation and connection muscles by making small talk with everyone you engage with during the week.” Dr. Tuttle suggests asking “How is your day going so far? What have you been up to today?” instead of the typical “how are you?” (Child Mind Institute

Tip 2: Schedule small playdates, or encourage teens to gather, with non-tech activities.

Reintroduce your kids to what it’s like to be in in person relationships and interactions. Pediatrician Dr. Jackie Douge reminds parents that “just like riding a bike, children will adapt. Be ready to help them adapt by helping organize opportunities for social connection. The social skills will come back but they have not experienced friendship in the usual ways over the past year.” 

Tip 3: Pair physical activity with face-to-face interaction.

Dr. Tuttle advises a good way to diffuse nervousness and get the flow of conversation started is to take a walk or engage in another in-person activity. An outing like this can double as a chance to make time for some physical activity. 

Tip 4: Teach kids to know how to ask for help.

Support kids’ self-advocacy and self-awareness. Academic counselor and school adviser Ana Homayoun, founder of Green Ivy Educational Consulting, suggests teaching this helpful language to youth, “I could really use some support around this. Is that something you could help me with or refer me to someone who could?” Also support youth in case they are asked to help a friend who needs more assistance than they can provide. In such a case, suggest your child tell a friend, “I want to be supportive and refer you to an adult who can help.” 


As California mother’s, we are bringing these toolkits to you through a cross-collaborative campaign. San Francisco Bay Area Moms is proud to be working with Ventura County Mom Collective and Inland Empire Mom Collective. We too, want to “ensure our state’s media and technology industries are a force for good in child development” (part of California Partners Project Mission Statement). #TechTips4CaliMoms

Previous articleWhat Maid Shows Us About Mothers 
Next articleEliminating Indoor Mold Growth so Your Air Quality Remains Healthy
Tracy is the Director of Programming and Partnerships for Darkness to Light, a child sexual abuse prevention organization. She grew up in northeast Ohio, and has lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Northern Virginia and has worked in the arts, in education, in non-profits and in ed tech. Her husband's job brought them to the Bay Area and there's no looking back! Tracy is mom to two trans teens who are just beginning their journey. Self-care includes pedicures, reading, cooking, crafting, and just being with her family. She also serves as Chair of the Board for the Attachment and Trauma Network, a national non-profit.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here