Teaching children some social and coping skills at home

When working with children of many different ages, therapists often utilize games. They are an engaging way to build the therapeutic relationship and can also help a therapist understand information about a child such as their tolerance for frustration, decision making, problem solving, perspective taking and social skill abilities. Some games are specifically designed for therapists to use as tools in the office. But there are also many games that can be easily modified to engage your own child in emotion identification, emotional expression, and problem solving. Here are a few that you could likely pull out of your playroom on any given day.

Feelings Uno. You add a simple twist to the normal Uno game, utilizing the colors. Decide beforehand what each color will represent. For example, blue can stand for sad, tired or bored. Green is happy, calm, focused, and in control. Yellow means worried or nervous. Finally, red stands for frustrated or angry. Every time a game player chooses a colored card, ask them to share a time they felt that way or indicate when they saw someone else feel that way. In a similar fashion, the games Twister and Jenga can also be modified to address emotion identification and expression.

Social Charades. A major component of social skills is learning to read and understand the social cues of others. These clues include body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. You can help your child practice by playing social charades. Create a list of different actions such as riding a rollercoaster, going to the dentist, or dropping your ice cream. Each participant will randomly choose from the list and act it out for the other players. Both the actor and the player benefit from choosing which social cues would match the action.

Roll and Spin a Coping Strategy. For this game, you can use a spinner from a game you already have. Assign each number to a different coping strategy. Ideas include belly breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, positive self-talk, and imagery. Each time a player spins a number, they are asked to describe a situation when they might use the strategy and practice how it is done. Asking children to practice coping strategies when they are already calm and in low stress situations helps them call up the skill when they are distressed.

The above outline some simple ideas to help engage your child at home. They may stand alone or work in conjunction with an expert. 


  • BKiwu
    BKiwu ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow...I knew games are engaging tools but didn't know there's such a wide selection and adaptation of already popular games to utilize. Very eye opening. excellent piece @verogakio👌