6 Tips for Building Social Processing Skills in Children Through Play
Role-Playing and Pretend Play:
• Engage in role-playing scenarios that mirror real-life social situations. Act out different roles and guide the child through various interactions.
• Use props or costumes to make the play more immersive and enjoyable.
• Gradually introduce more complex scenarios as the child becomes comfortable.
Social Story Play:
• Create and act out short stories that involve social challenges and resolutions.
• Use toys or figurines to represent characters in the stories, allowing the child to interact with them and learn through play.
Provide playsets that mimic real-life settings (e.g., dollhouses, play kitchens) to encourage cooperative imaginative play and communication between peers.
Sensory Play Activities:
• Create sensory bins with various textures, colors, and objects. Engaging in sensory play can help reduce anxiety and improve social engagement (e.g.; having a child comb a doll’s hair to help minimize fears over having their own hair combed).
• Encourage the child to explore the sensory materials with peers, fostering joint attention and communication.
• Set up scenarios where the child can pretend to be different characters, encouraging them to express emotions, communicate, and solve problems.
• Join in the play and model appropriate social behaviors.
Guided Imagery and Storytelling:
• Use guided imagery to take the child on imaginary journeys. Describe scenarios where they interact with others, encouraging them to respond and ask questions (e.g.; including or creating story boards to help suggest play ideas).
• Encourage the child to create their own stories and share them with peers or family members.