How do I bridge social skills from therapy to home?

  • Rather than asking "What did you do at school today" reframe your questions with more specific questions such as "Who did you play with today?" "What did you play at recess"? "What was the most interesting thing that happened today?"

  • Model idioms and figures of speech during everyday situations. Modeling nonliteral expressions such as "We don't see eye to eye" or "You're pulling my leg" will allow your child to think critically and understand that what we say is not necessarily what we mean.

  • At dinner time, play "pass the ball." Whoever is holding the ball is able to talk while others are listening. You can also write down "ice breaker questions" such as "What's your favorite___." Whomever has the ball, asks someone a question. The ball is passed to others at the table until everyone has had a turn. This activity will reduce interrupting, improve impulse control, and encourage your child to sit down during meal time and engage in a conversation.

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  • Play games such as "20 questions" and "I spy" in the car so that the child can foster their memory, deductive reasoning, and descriptive vocabulary. Ask questions such as "what category is it, what does it look like, what parts does it have, what does it do, and where do you find it when you're playing these games.

  • When your child is talking, model ways to politely interrupt by saying "excuse me" or "May I please interrupt?"

  • Model "bridging phrases" to appropriately change topics while maintaining the conversation. Phrases such as "Bye the way.." "That reminds me of..." "On a different subject.... "Speaking of... " will teach your child how to change subjects more appropriately while maintaining the conversation.

  • Encourage your child to understand that every problem is fixable. During natural problems that occur throughout the day, ask your child how they feel and two ways they could solve the problem. For example, if your child is having a hard time getting ready in the morning, ask him or her two things they can do differently to prevent the same problem from happening tomorrow morning.

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  • Pay attention to greetings and farewells with peers and adults. Encourage your child to approach the host of a party to say "hello and good bye." Discuss when you would give a "hi five" "knuckles" a handshake, a pat on the back, and a hug. Your child will learn the difference between formal and informal salutations (greetings) when saying hello to familiar and unfamiliar peers and adults.

  • "Prime" your child before entering a location by asking them "what are you going to say?

  • Model flexible language such as "no big deal, maybe next time, first/then, let's compromise" so that your child can learn to be flexible in thought, action, and language.

  • Give your child a 10 minute and 5 minute warning before leaving a preferred activity.

  • To encourage emotional regulation and frustration tolerance, ask your child to rate the problem on a scale of 1-5. Ask your child if this is a big problem or a small problem. Whenever you are stressed, model coping strategies to deescalate the frustration such as deep breathing, walking away, counting backward from 10-1, or humming your favorite song.

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  • Limit screen time before bed. Electronic games prior to sleep can impede the child's quality of rest.

  • Provide reinforcement instead of bribery. For example, "when you calm down, we can...

  • Positive reinforcement is always better than punishment. Giving your child social praise, marbles, quarters, or stickers for good choices will help maintain the positive behavior.

  • Teach your child to replace demands with questions. You can model this language yourself. For example, instead of "Clean the table" see if your child responds better if you say "Do you mind cleaning the table?"

  • Have a "social fake" contest at the dinner table. Each person has to talk about something for a long period of time. Everyone listening, sustains eye contact, smiles, and nods their head with interest. Whomever does this "social fake" for the longest period of time, wins the game.

  • Just like we have fire drills, have an "interrupting drill". Tell your child you are going to be on an important phone call. See how long your child can "wait" to talk to you.

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