Games to Develop Social Skills for Kids

By Jim Radenhausen
Kids can play games to develop social skills and practice interacting with others.

Part of a child's development involves the ability to interact socially with other kids and people. While some kids adapt to social interactions easily, others may have more of a challenge. Parents and teachers can engage kids in various games that will help them develop their social skills and provide fun as well.

'Build a Consensus'

For this game, kids learn the importance of negotiation and compromise by planning a mock birthday party. Individually, kids mull over choices regarding activities, the lunch meal and type of birthday cake. Once kids identify their favorite and least favorite options, they come together and see what they agree on.

Charades

The classic Charades game gives kids the opportunity to use social skills such as perspective-taking and reading body language. Players draw slips of paper from a container, and try conveying--by gestures only--the chosen word to their teammates. Teams guessing correctly receive 1 point; if team does not guess correctly, the opposing team gets a chance to steal. Aside from using non-verbal communication skills, kids converge and interact socially as they try guessing the word correctly.

Cooperative Ball Games

Ball passing games help kids successfully interact with each other in the name of a common goal. Without interruption or dropping a ball, kids hit, kick or toss a ball back and forth. To keep the ball moving back and forth, kids anticipate their partner's actions, and make accommodations based on those actions.

'Make the Statue Laugh'

Strong social skills involve the ability to practice self control. In this game, one kid plays "It" as all other kids freeze like statues. The "It" kid performs actions to make the "frozen" kids laugh, making funny faces, doing a wild dance or making funny noises. The first kid to laugh becomes “It” for the next round. If the "It" kid performs genuinely funny actions and "frozen" kids restrain from bursting into laughter, they successfully show self control.

'The Name Game'

Before speaking to someone, kids should learn the importance of capturing a person's attention. For this game, kids sit in a circle, with one kid taking a ball. The kid with the ball says the name of another kid in the circle and rolls the ball to him. The kid receiving the ball in turn says the name of another kid in the circle and rolls the ball to her. Play continues in this manner, with kids learning to address the person with whom they wish to speak.

'Thumball'

Kids put the "squeeze" on social skills when playing with an Answers In Motion "Thumball," recommended for ages 3 and up. Kicking, rolling, passing and tossing a squeezable ball in any direction, kids practice their communication and social skills in "Easy," Hard," "Difficult" and "Challenge" modes. Each panel of the ball contains a printed graphic, logo, photo or word related to the specific subject. Upon catching a ball and looking at the panel under a specified finger, kids may answer for themselves; ask another player to answer; or, predict the answer another player would give. If a kid's thumb lands on the title space or "Shnoogie" space, he chooses the space to respond to. Thumball theme balls include five "Mania" balls ("Answer," "Category," "Emotion", "Letter" and "Soccer"), as well as learning balls for "ABCs," "Animals," "Numbers" and "Shapes." Other Thumballs include "Catch Peace," "Ice Breaker," "Love Always," "Meet & Greet," "Move Your Body," "Parts of a Story," "Virtues & Values" and "Who Are You?" A leader may set time limits for responses and game length, and award/deduct points for kids' responses.

About the Author

Jim Radenhausen is a freelancer who began writing professionally in 1998. A resident of Reeders, Pa., he spent over two years working at the "Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal." Radenhausen received his bachelor's degree in English/professional writing from Kutztown University in 1997.