When I talk with parents about how best I can support their child or teen with social skills practice, conversation skills are frequently one of the areas of concern. Most kids who come to my programs HAVE the knowledge of what they should do but need practice in applying that knowledge. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of providing an environment that allows for exploring and implementing their understanding of a skill.
An example might be, small talk. Small talk is hard for everyone, particularly for kids whose vast knowledge of a topic, or interests that run a little outside the box of their peers at school, can easily engage in what we all decided at camp last week to call Nerd Small Talk (said by everyone with both kindness and humor).
Last week, I overheard some beautiful initiating and maintaining small talk with plenty of give-and-take conversations (ranging from My Little Pony to Dungeons and Dragons, to what they watch on YouTube, World History, drawing, Anime, and more.
However, when I try to engage kids in typical small talk, weather, school, vacations they might have taken, I’m usually met with the one or two-word answer and the conversation dies.
So, in life out in the wild, social success and friendship will mean helping your child find people (most likely outside of school) that share in the joy of these outside-the-box interests and topics. That can be in the form of clubs at school, the local comic book/game store, online clubs of shared interests, etc. Interests in common are where friendships begin and conversations easily happen.