Indoor activities to keep my child’s social skills sharp

by | Feb 4, 2021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Argh! We have all been stuck indoors for months! Some of us have been able to send our children back to school. Many of us have even been able to resume some ‘normal’ activities here and there. Despite a little bit of normalcy, we are still faced with having limited opportunities for kids to socialize.

So, what can we do?

During my time as a school psychologist, I noted that there were a few games that all the kids loved to play. You can play these with your own family or with the small group of friends in your ‘COVID bubble’ to build social skills at home.

1. Jenga! This is the block stacking game where players are charged with the challenge to remove individual blocks from the tower without making it all crash down. The person who makes the tower crash, loses that round. Why Jenga? This is good for focus, finger dexterity, general social interaction, and practicing being a good sport. And yes, big kids will still play it! High School too!

2. Silent Ball: This goofy game is not something you buy. You simply need a small ball, stuffed animal or hacky sack. Players simply sit or stand in a circle, and pass the ball to one another. There are just three rules:

  1. Throws have to be ‘catchable,’ or you are out.
  2. If a throw is catchable but isn’t caught, the receiver is out.
  3. Whoever talks or laughs is out.

A fun twist is that a referee can add difficulty if the game goes on for too long. For example, the referee can require you to stand on one leg, cover one eye, or play with your non-dominant hand. Why silent ball? This game has endless benefits from requiring focus, eye-contact, cooperation, and it’s just so fun!

3. Head’s Up: This game is conveniently available on iPhones or as a board game. One person draws a word and places that word on their forehead without peeking at it first. The other people gesture (think Pictionary!) and try to get that person to guess the word. Whoever gets the most right before the time limit, wins the round. This game is GREAT for basically any kid, but certainly for those with disabilities like ADHD or autism. Why Head’s Up? Playing a guessing game requires perspective taking, non-verbal communication, gestures, and body language. Plus, inevitably someone will do a really funny gesture, and laughter is part of the fun! 

4. Uno: This is a card game that you can get at Target or basically anywhere toys are sold. There is also now the Uno Spin version and even an online version! Why Uno? This game requires some strategy and focus, a little math, and some practice in being a good sport. I rarely meet a kid who doesn’t like to play it, so it’s a great choice for parents to create low-stress play opportunities.

Outside of playing games together, it’s a really good time to keep things interesting by mixing things up around your house. We are all COVID-tired and have exhausted our energies on all the typical ideas that come to mind. If you are in a rut and want your child to practice social skills, try learning a new skill together. Consider choosing a new activity like one of the following each week to discover a favorite new hobby and keep your time at home interesting!

Creative activities to try together:

  • Cooking adventurous new dishes
  • Taking guitar or ukulele lessons together
  • Sledding, snow-shoeing or skiing (if in a winter climate)
  • Creating collages or other perfection-not-required art projects

Whatever you do, the most important thing is don’t lose heart. We know you are working hard to keep your child active and engaged, and your child appreciates it (even if you don’t hear that enough). Keep up the good work! You rock! And as always, we are here for you if you need us. 

P.S. I do coaching with kids and families,and I love playing all those games online with kids. Hope to see you soon! 

Warmly,

Dr. Marcy Willard

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