Play, Social Distancing, Social Language, Speech Language Pathology

Social Skills While Social Distancing

During this time of uncertainty we’ve been asked to practice “Social Distancing”. Schools are cancelling nationwide, restaurants are closing, and at home play dates are being discouraged. Here is a short list of some things you can do to have social interactions and practice those social skills while also protecting those you love by using social distancing.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Use FaceTime, Zoom, Skype

These amazing socially smart technologies allow us to feel like we’re in the room with others. Being “in person” (meaning we can see AND hear them) makes a conversation more real and honest. It gives us a chance to pair nonverbal language (gestures, body language, facial expressions, tone of voice) with hearing the message. So spend some time each day video-calling their best friend from school, a relative, and anyone else from outside activities they are used to speaking to on a daily basis!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

Read with a Focus on Characters

Take the book your child is reading. Spend time breaking down the characters actions. We’re they what you would expect or not? If they are not expected, what did you and your child (and the other characters expect?) Then dive into how each choice makes others around him/her feel and in return how their response makes the main character feel. Do you predict the character will change their actions to the expected choice? If the character did the expected choice, what were the positive outcomes from this?

(Tip: you can do this with movies and TV shows too if reading is a struggle)

Michelle Garcia Winner has created an amazing tool (see image below) to help visualize this called Social Behavior Mapping. You can find it HERE.

Social Behavior Mapping from Michelle Garcia Winner

Dig Into Those Feelings

During this time of uncertainty we will all feel a wide range of emotions. Some of these will be new and scary for our kids. Use this social distancing to explore these feelings as they come and go and practice using strategies to help your child learn to regulate them:

  • Identify the signs of the emotions
  • Name the feeling
  • Talk about ways we can shift those feelings into a more positive/calm feeling
  • Practice strategies (Zones of Regulation and Generation Mindful are great tools for teaching this)
Photo by Pixabay on

Have Family Game Nights

These are great for bonding as a family! Games reduce stress and promote problem solving skills. When we are focused on a game we tend to share conversation more freely as well. Game nights allow children to practice turn taking in the game and with conversations. It requires following the rules (spoken and implied). They teach us that sometimes we lose and that’s ok- but we have choices on how we can react.


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